Swim school concept launches national expansion

BY Al Urbanski

Only lately have in-line shopping center tenants come to the realization that the traffic drawn by fitness operations merit the parking spaces they take up. Now here comes a fitness concept whose staffers alone constitute a decent customer base for fellow tenants.

Forty swim instructors and three managers conduct 2,000 lessons a week at each of the four locations that Big Blue Swim School operates in Illinois. Former member of the U.S. national swim team Chris DeJong founded Big Blue with old friend John Lonergan in a mission to teach kids how to swim his way.

Special features of Big Blue schools are water that’s always 91-degrees and shallow throughout the pool, comfortable parent viewing areas equipped with WiFi, and toys and activities for waiting siblings. Swimmers get individual changing rooms.

With financial backing from Level 5 partners, DeJong and Lonergan have embarked on a plan to expand to Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Denver with 17 new locations by 2021. Their ultimate goal is 300 to 500 Big Blue Swim Schools nationwide.

“We’re about more than what a typical retailer can offer. We offer families easy access to a vitally important life skill which can’t be outsourced or purchased through the mail,” DeJong said.

Big Blue’s Illinois locations are in Wilmette, Niles, Buffalo Grove, and Hoffman Estates.

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