As owners of the Colorado Springs Swim School, Kevin Dessart and his wife Tina are setting an example in the industry, demonstrating that adopting a business-minded approach can make pool operation financially sustainable.
Tina, who swam competitively at Ohio’s Bowling Green State
University, became involved in the business in 2001. Kevin, who
grew up on Long Island, N.Y., dreamed of playing professional
hockey. He played at St. John’s University, but after
graduating in 1990, turned to the business of sports. Since then he
has held positions with several NHL teams and sports-related
businesses, including Carmichael Training Systems, founded by
former Olympian Chris Carmichael.
The Dessarts took over ownership of the swim school in the midst of
the recession. It was 2009, and when the city of Colorado Springs
announced plans to close three of its pools, Kevin and Tina decided
something had to be done to make sure that didn’t happen.
They approached the city and Kevin took the lead in establishing a
unique partnership between the city and Colorado Springs Swim
Through the arrangement, the Dessarts took over management of three
city pools that otherwise would have closed due to the down
For the three years prior to the takeover, the city lost a total of
nearly $700,000 annually on the facilities, two outdoor pools and a
recreation center. Under the Dessarts' management, Kevin notes that
efficiency has been improved and losses significantly reduced,
through a combination of cost-saving measures and other
Looking ahead, he remains optimistic, even though the future of the
agreement between Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs Swim
School is unclear. In late 2011, city officials abruptly announced
that the partnership was dissolved.
Dessart is so convinced that financial sustainability can be
achieved, he is taking the message national. He has spoken at a
number of conferences, including USA Swimming’s Build-A-Pool and Save a
Pool, the Aquatics International Unleash the
Power of Water Virtual Conference and the World Aquatic
His mission is to provide an example of how to create a more
sustainable financial model that will allow aquatics operations to
continue to thrive.
“There isn’t a right or a wrong way to do
anything,” Dessart says. ”But the paradigm has to