British Swim School continues to expand its footprint by filling its first Calgary pool
It’s a first for Calgary that’s designed to fill the empty pools left behind when the Red Cross ended its swimming program in December.
The city’s new British Swim School is designed to offer a safe and convenient location for Calgarians to learn how to swim.
The Red Cross swim and lifeguard programming ended after 76 years so that the organization could direct more attention to humanitarian demands.
“The Red Cross has done a tremendous job throughout the years in operation throughout Canada,” says Erica Martin the co-owner of the British Swim School’s Calgary location.
“We came at the right time where we can fill that gap and continue where courses may have left off.”
The perfect location
Martin has teamed up with Divine Ebesoh to become franchise owners of the British Swim School at Hilton Garden Inn Calgary Airport.
Opening a location that was both convenient and safe for everyone seeking lessons was imperative for the duo.
“We live in a diverse community and we feel that opening this location will make a positive impact in our community,” Martin says.
“The manager that we partnered with from Hilton Garden Inn was very happy to be a part of our mission of giving back to the community and to support us in saving lives.”
Lessons for children to adults
The British Swim School teaches both children and adults from the ages of three months old and up, and the goal is to make swimmers water-confident in a fun and engaging way.
“Our mission statement is that every individual, regardless of age and ability, has the opportunity to become a safe and happy swimmer,” Ebesoh says.
Since COVID, there’s been an upward trend in the number of adults who sought out swimming lessons.
“There was a surge in adult learning and the trend is still ongoing,” Ebesoh says.
“I don’t know if it’s maybe people fulfilling a bucket list goal, wanting extra activities, or are planning on going on vacation.”
Fun and engaging
The British Swim School is dedicated to teaching swimmers how to get used to water, safety and survival skills, and enhancing their techniques.
“It’s grouped classes based on age, skills, and ability of the students. We teach water acclimation, how to float on their backs,” Martin says.
“After the survival lessons, we move to stroke development where we focus on speed, technique, and endurance.”
The British Swim School is offering a new form of training called Showtime to children and adults to encourage people to enjoy swimming and instill a desire to attend these life-saving lessons.
“This is where we use fun and engaging activities at the start of every lesson,” Martin says.
“We use this because research has shown that students learn faster in a fun and relaxed environment.”
Reducing the number of drownings
While not everyone may have a pool in their backyard or even enjoy going to lakes and rivers, basic swimming skills are still a necessity.
While parental supervision is always the number one safety measure, research shows that participating in formal swim programs can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children.
“I think drowning is the third-leading cause of accidental death in Canada. I strongly believe that everybody should have at least basic water safety,” Ebesoh says.
“Alberta is surrounded by huge bodies of water. In the summertime, people take trips to the lake, trips to the river, and you never know what might happen.”
A shortage of swim instructors and lifeguards
The British Swim School’s instructors are trained by a certified aquatic trainer who has gone through all the training offered by the franchisor, including numerous hours of online and in-water drills.
However, there’s still a shortage of swimming instructors and lifeguards in Canada.
“Everybody that runs a swim school knows there’s a big shortage,” Ebesoh says.
“Teaching a swim class for four hours is really hard on your body. So people don’t want to do it.”
Most lifeguards and swimming instructors consist of teenagers and young adults who are only looking for part-time work before they move on to post-secondary education.
“We’d like to encourage anyone who loves being around the water and who loves to swim to offer their service and to help in our vision of saving lives,” Martin adds.
For now, the British Swim School only has one Calgary location, but there are already plans in the works for expansion into the city’s southwest downtown area and the northwest.
There are now five British Swim Schools in Alberta with this new location.