It doesn’t have many fancy bells and
whistles — no giant play structures, slides or wave pools
— but Gold Medal Swim School is meeting its mission to
“promote healthy and lasting lifestyle choices” through
a commitment to quality instruction.
Approximately 1,500 kids a week are learning
swimming and water safety under the leadership of owners Mike Troy,
a two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Mike Walker, a former NCAA
and Olympic coach.
“We believe that Olympic-level skills start at the
fundamental level, meaning things that Olympians do fundamentally
are things that we try to develop in a 3-month-old,” Walker
says. “Breaking down swimming to its most fundamental aspects
is what makes our program different.”
Those elements include things such as controlled relaxation, the
quality that makes Michael Phelps and other Olympic athletes look
so effortless in the water.
Other keys to the school’s teaching strategy are small class
sizes and enthusiastic instructors. “The kids can really
develop a connection to the staff and feel nurtured,” Walker
Helping to perpetuate that warm environment is the strategy of
promoting from within and relying on staff referrals. Walker
estimates 75 percent to 80 percent of new hires come from direct
referrals. “That way, we’re always cultivating our
value set [among staff],” he adds.
Walker and Troy opened the Gold Medal Swim Club in a strip mall in
June 2007. It includes a traditional indoor pool and dry-play area,
and the modern design is meant to create a positive, exciting
energy. The facility also features many eco-friendly components:
compact fluorescent lighting; low-flow toilets; recycled rubber
flooring in the kids’ play area; recycled glass; low volatile
organic compound-releasing paint; and Strata, an eco-friendly
building material used in the changing room.
To attract students, Gold Medal skips traditional marketing methods
such as advertising or fliers in favor of efforts that will
directly involve young swimmers. There are free community water
safety days regularly, and other promotions have included free swim
Currently, the facility offers all levels of classes for all ages,
infants to seniors. Troy is a former head coach of the U.S.
Paralympics team, and adaptive aquatics classes are available for
those with special needs. The competition program includes a
high-end technique class, with students getting to show off their
skills at various meets.
A testament to the success of the program, Walker says, is the fact
that most students who come to the school leave knowing at least
the basic strokes. — Kendra Kozen