Owners of Aqua-Tots Swim School in Horsham, Andrea and Brad Sahl, opened the first Aqua-Tots franchise in the Northeast in 2017 with the goal of creating a fun atmosphere where they teach children how to swim and become safe in the water.
They were customers at first, sending their children to Aqua-Tots to a North Carolina location before moving back home to Pennsylvania where they decided to open a family-friendly franchise of their own.
When speaking with Andrea, she was clear to state that unintentional drowning deaths are the second leading cause of injury death among children, those aged zero to 17, and is also the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for those ages one to four. This could occur not just in swimming pools, but in oceans, lakes, and bathtubs.
“Our world-class curriculum is focused on water safety, drowning prevention, and progression of swim skills,” Andrea said. “Properly teaching children how to learn to swim is so important because as humans it’s not inherently easy since we are land creatures!”
The school starts swimming lessons as early as four months of age and includes eight levels of instruction which is based on age and ability.
“Levels one, two, and three focus on water adjustment, safety, boundaries, and comfort. These include learning how to hold your air, float on your back, roll-overs and get in and out of the pool safely. Levels four through eight focus on control, independence, tempo, and technique that are important to becoming a safe, confident and independent swimmer.”
Right now, we’re 19 weeks away from the opening of pools for the summer which means that you can get 19 group swim lessons in before that time.
This is important because the longer parents wait, the fewer weeks their children have to be ready for when pools are open.
“It’s so important to take swimming lessons all year round,” Andrea said. “It’s not a seasonal activity. One of the hardest things for parents that I continue to educate is understanding that you cannot teach a child to learn how to swim in a month. There is muscle memory that you have to build up and it’s about repetition and comfort.”
What Sets Aqua-Tots Apart from Their Competition?
Andrea and Brad have created an environment at Aqua-Tots where both owners and staff live by their seven core values. These values include how they treat their families and staff as well as how their staff treats Aqua-Tot families and each other.
Aqua-Tots Core Values
1. Affirm each other’s strengths and protect each other’s weaknesses.
2. Treat others the way you desire to be treated.
3. Extend grace to those who are teachable.
4. Seek first to understand others before trying to be understood.
5. Choose relationships over profits.
6. Think outside the box; always question the status quo.
7. Praise in public; correct in private.
They also believe that nobody should have to sacrifice learning how to swim if they can’t afford it.
Andrea and Brad set up scholarship programs where they sponsor kids to take swimming lessons free of charge and have instituted a program of “make-up donations” where a swimmer who misses a class can donate their make-up class.
At the end of the year, they ask families if they want to donate any of their make-up classes which they then give to families at area organizations in need. As part of the program, they match up to 200 of the donated swims to give-a-way as well.
This past November, they collected 533 makeup classes that turned into 23 six-month swim lessons that were donated to The Laurel House and Safe Families for Children.
“We just believe that nobody should have to be denied the opportunity to swim because they can’t afford it.”
Andrea and her husband further believe that it’s important to create a business that community members feel good about supporting.
“We not only want to run a great swimming school, but we want to be a business that our community members want to support because of the type of business that we are. If I was a customer, I would want to do business with somebody who values giving back to the community and helping other people.”
- Aqua-Tots is a year-round indoor swim school that offers eight levels of classes, starting at four months old.
- Pool temperatures remain at 90 degrees, always.
- Instructors receive +50 hours of hands-on training before being certified as a Water Safety Instructor.
- Class sizes are small at a 4:1 child to teacher ratio.
- The Aqua-Tots program uses a world-class curriculum.
- Several COVID-19 safety precautions have been put into place including vaccination requirements of all swim instructors, masks are required by all adults when inside the building, (this excludes inside the pool as mask-wearing while in the water is a safety hazard), and adjustments have been made to instruction to avoid close breathing contact.
To learn more about Aqua-Tots Swim School, visit their website or give them a call at 267.317.2400.