Swimhaus in Gilbert is making a splash in the swim industry and throughout the community in an effort to teach safe water skills to kids.
After months of extensive research, talking to and visiting other swim schools across the nation, husband-wife owners Jim and Erin Gleason moved to Arizona from Michigan six years ago with the sole purpose of opening up a swim school.
The building at 868 N. Gilbert, where Swimhaus now stands, previously operated as a different swim school but underwent major renovations when the Gleasons took it over.
“The bones were there but we redid everything,” said Jim.
One renovation included implementing a state-of-the-art water purification system for the pool. Because the water temperature is maintained at a 90 degrees, Jim said it was imperative to find a way to keep it germ-free, but wanted to do so without using the standard harsh chemicals.
“We thought about what we would want as parents,” said Jim. “We wouldn’t want our kids being in or around water with that strong chemical smell.”
The Gleasons said the purification system not only keeps the water clean but is also gentler on skin and hair – which is especially important for their instructors and the students who spend many hours in the pool.
Alex Bogert, who has been taking her 16-month-old daughter to Swimhuas since July, said the water filtration system has been great for her baby’s sensitive skin.
“The way they filter their water uses less chemicals but doesn’t compromise on cleanliness so I know my daughter isn’t at risk of getting dry skin or breaking out but is also swimming in a clean pool,” said Bogert.
Maintaining sanitary water conditions is just one of the many precautions The Swimhaus has taken to reopen and operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Cleanliness has always been top notch, even before COVID,” said Erin. “We just stepped up what we were doing upon reopening.”
Some of the safety measures have included limiting the number of instructors in the pool, reducing the amount of people allowed in the building and requiring instructors to wear face shields.
They also created a position dedicated solely to cleaning the facility, installed several hand-sanitizing stations and are encouraging parents to refrain from using the family changing stations.
While the Gleasons admitted that the repercussions of COVID-19 have been a challenge, they said they feel like the business has started to recover.
“We put our time in. We spent years talking to others, being prepared. We were on a roll. Then COVID came,” said Jim.
Just three days after closing Swimhaus back in March due to the shutdown, the Gleasons gave birth to their first child, adding another layer of chaos to their lives.
Once given the all-clear to reopen in mid-May, Jim said they made the decision to remain closed a few more weeks until they could ensure they had a new plan in place and the proper personal protective equipment in supply.
Since reopening on June 1, Swimhaus adapted their classes to take into consideration the different needs and comfort levels of all their customers.
“We’re doing everything we can to give parents options and make them aware that we’re in this together,” said Jim.
Some options include smaller class sizes and even 15 minute private sessions for parents who are still concerned about COVID but also want to ensure their child can be safe in and around water.
“Parents have to balance the risk between being safe about COVID and also worrying about their children drowning,” said Jim. “Drownings are up this year and swim lessons are such an effective measure to keep kids safe.”
Mikaela Durr had been taking her 2-year-old son to Swimhaus since February. After missing a few months due to the closure, she got her son started right back up after the reopening.
“They have been extra diligent in taking precautions since they reopened in June and I appreciate their willingness to work hard to keep us safe,” said Durr.
Durr’s son attends the Tot Swim Class once a week for a 30 minute lesson. Tot Swim is one of the several options available to parents for their children.
Swimhaus also offers baby swim classes for those beginning to walk up to 18 months or 2 years old. Classes involve the parents and focus on teaching the babies skills such as kicking, floating, rolling over, and breath control.
Parents can also choose to enroll their child in Swimhaus’ Survival Program.
“Most swim schools usually only offer one or the other: swim lessons or survival lessons,’ said Jim. “We have our own survival program and it gives parents that option.”
Swimhaus’ unique Survival Program was developed by Erin and takes a gentler approach compared to other swim schools.
Although requiring a bigger time commitment with students attending lessons for 15 minutes four days a week, Erin said the payoff is always rewarding to see.
“We see kids graduate from the survival program and it never gets old,” she said.
It’s amazing what they can do--like hold a back float fully clothed.”
Despite some of the uncertainties they have had to face this year, the Gleasons dedication to their business has remained strong.
“We want to provide the best swim lessons in the country,” said Jim. “When parents come to us and say their children have fallen in the pool and saved themselves, that is why we do this.”