Dean Wiederstein saw San Antonio Swim Academy grow from 21 kids in one location in 2001 to 780 in 3 locations in 2015. And he believes it is because of how they’ve set themselves apart from the other choices in San Antonio.
There are swim schools where parents can take their tots to learn the basics and participate in Mommy and Me classes. There are schools where competitive teams are king. There are schools that pass groups of like-aged kids along milestones to learning the swim basics.
However, San Antonio Swim Academy doesn’t fit into one of these niches. San Antonio Swim Academy wants to be all of them.
“We want to provide everything a child and a family might need to reach their personal swimming goals. We make the investment in being able to provide them with an end-to-end learning progression.”
A Start-to-Finish Mentality
Pulling from his background as a Marine Corps swimming instructor, Dean wrote 14 levels of curriculum. In doing so, Dean made it possible for SAS Academy to provide a building experience as children from babies to adults. Instead of moving students in age groups, Dean wrote curriculum that groups the like-skilled in classes so that learning can be focused on very specific goals. Instructor-student ratios are low – no more than 4:1 – so that each child has the attention necessary to develop confidence in their unrefined skills. And because he was a Marine Corps swimming instructor, Dean also offers underwater training for Navy Seals preparing for BUD/S.
Regardless of the skills that a child (or an adult) comes to SAS Academy with, the level they need next is available.
The continuity is important in building customer loyalty. Young students want to progress to the levels that they see their older siblings accomplish and successful competitive teams establish a reputation for building polished skills on solid foundations.
“Every step between where that young child is and where he sees himself is here.”
Invest in Relationships
Dean also believes in the power of building relationships. Low instructor-student ratios also help relationships to develop within the classes. Instructors concentrate on building relationships with parents by taking the time after each class to answer their questions and discuss progress. Instructors do progress calls with parents every three weeks so that see the value of their child’s instruction building. Instructors are invested in their students and want their parents to be engaged in the learning experience as well. This requires that the Academy’s instructors be invested in the relationship and not simply skill teachers.
A Peek into the Experience
Dean uses the summer to offer parents who are shopping swim schools a condensed SAS Academy experience. Several mini camps packed 1, 2 or 3 classes per week into a monthly timeframe. They can choose how much immersion into the Academy they want to “try out” as they are making their long-term swim school decision. Once they’ve gotten a taste of the personalized, focused style of the classes, they’re hooked. They wouldn’t put their children anywhere else for learning such an important life skill.
“It’s lots of work but it’s worth it. It makes a difference. We can be part of a child’s progression to becoming an amazing swimmer.”