By Naeisha Rose
The British Swim School Brooklyn Queens, a franchise that is part of British Swim School and provides year-round indoor swim lessons in 21 states, hosted its grand opening last Saturday.
The school waived its $40 sign-up fee Nov. 17 for anyone who enrolled at the grand opening of its 133-40 79th St. Howard Beach L.A. Fitness location, according to British Swim.
Parents and children had the opportunity to observe a typical swim lesson and receive a mini-evaluation of their own swimming skills. Despite the lessons starting in the cool fall season, British Swim believes that it is important to get lessons no matter what time of the year it is.
In the United States, there are approximately 10 drownings — non-boat related — daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2005 to 2014, there were 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings.
In New York City, from 2001 to 2005, 286 injury-related deaths were of children between 1 and 12 years old, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The British Swim School was founded by CEO Rita Goldberg in 1981 and began by teaching water safety survival skills to children as young as three months old in Manchester, England, according to British Swim School Brooklyn Queens franchisee Phil Turner.
Goldberg moved the swim school to Florida in 1994 and has steadily been expanding the organization, which Turner says currently provides 15,000 lessons weekly. Turner, a Fort Greene resident who was an avid swimmer and taught swim lessons in California in his youth, left his corporate retail job in Manhattan to join the franchise this year after his kids were waitlisted for swim lessons.
“My choice to join this company is driven by my experience as a swim coach growing up in a place that had lots of pool access for families, then trying to raise my own children in a place that has hardly any options,” said Turner. “Drowning is the leading cause of death in children under five, and I wanted to do something to help change that.”
To determine if students are water safe, instructors closely watch to see if the young swimmers are capable of floating on their own and rolling over in the water. From there, the instructors assign them to a class that matches their ability level, according to Turner.
“There are water safety and survival skills that we are measuring first,” said Turner. “We don’t make age-based decisions, we make skill-based decisions.”
There are infant and toddler classes that little ones can take with their parents. Children ages 3 and above will be with instructors, according to Turner. There is a four-to-one student-to-instructor ratio and there will be introductory, beginning, intermediate, advanced and expert levels for the older cohorts.
Swim lessons are available for a monthly cost of $118 per person. British Swim is willing to work with larger families in adjusting prices, according to Turner.
“We are going to give them specific skills to work on in each level,” said Turner. “If you stick with the program, you will advance.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose