The nation’s largest swim school franchise just got bigger and a lot more high-tech.
SwimLabs, with 11 locations, is unique in the learn-to-swim industry. Students swim in small, constant-current pools that are equipped with 360-degree video systems to capture their strokes. Footage is analyzed and compared against that of world-class swimmers. In addition, mirrors are affixed to the bottom so students can see their technique reflected back at them. It’s how Olympians train.
“It’s very different than a traditional swim school and therefore gives them a different experience,” said Matthew Lane, CEO of Denver-based Streamline Brands.
Adding SwimLabs will allow Streamline’s existing franchisees to buy into the proprietary technology. School owners can graduate students from basic swim lessons to the more advanced training system offered by SwimLabs. Doing this will extend the customer life cycle and attract competitive athletes, such as Masters Swimmers and triathletes looking to shave seconds off their time via cutting-edge technology.
Owners in the SwimLabs network also will benefit by joining the Streamline family, officials said. SwimLabs will soon have access to the same back-office service currently enjoyed by SafeSplash and Swimtastic locations. A centralized customer contact center is staffed 73 hours per week, handling all calls and website inquiries, schedule changes, billing reconciliation, accounting and insurance — “all that stuff that can frighten the operator,” Lane said.
Lane founded SafeSplash in Denver in 2005 and began franchising in 2014. In 2015, the company acquired the industry’s very first franchisor, Swimtastic, which is based in Waukesha, Wisc. Lane then formed Streamline Brands as the umbrella company for both franchises, and now SwimLabs.
Like SafeSplash, SwimLabs began in Denver in 2005. It opened its first franchised location in 2013.
Last year, Streamline went international. It signed a deal with Sports World, Mexico’s largest operator of health clubs, to open 32 SafeSplash schools throughout the country.
The company’s rapid development landed it on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of fastest growing franchises last year. The wave of momentum should result in more than 400 locations by 2020, Lane said, representing 800% growth in five years.
Lane attributes much of the franchise’s success to its ability to unburden independent owners of administrative duties, allowing them to focus on teaching kids to swim. “Fundamentally, the swim school industry is a neighborhood business,” Lane said. “We want to make sure our franchisees are intimately focused on that.”