Have you heard of Goldfish? Neither had I until two years ago. I thought I was immersed in the aquatics industry, yet I had no idea that swim school franchises are rapidly supplementing traditional, community-based swim lessons all over North America (pay wall).
Goldfish Swim Schools is leading the pack by volume, instructing 100,000 students every week (!) and many new franchise locations under construction.
Coming from a municipal aquatic background, I've wanted to see a private swim school for a while. So when Juanita B., the general manager at Goldfish Oakville (whom I met through Instagram) said I could visit, I jumped at the opportunity.
I visited on February 12, 2019. The facility looks empty because I arrived in the midst of a major snowstorm (the facility closed early in the afternoon).
I loved the bright and tropical decor. There is often little money for such "frills" in municipal budgets (and rightly so), making the space at Goldfish feel particularly bright and welcoming.
The pool area is warm and has a constant depth of 4 ft/1.2 M, making it a dream to teach preschoolers and young children. Students focus on mastery of swimming widths of the pool before ever attempting lengths.
The other facilities are well-designed: large, soaking showers (which any pool operator will appreciate), plus large family-style change stalls and bathrooms.
Ribbons are used for the completion of program levels, milestone skills ("Hip - Hip - Hooray, I put my face in today!") positive behavior ("I know all of the drills because of my great listening skills!") and life events.
I totally fell for Bubbles, the Goldfish mascot. Bubbles is used in a different themes and activities every month, teaching everything from friendship to water safety. There may or may not be a cupid Bubbles toy on the dash of my truck.
Overall, I was really impressed with the quality of the facilities and the service offered at this aquatic facility.
My professional opinion is that we can all be united in the goal of water safety and drowning prevention. Different customers will always look for different products at different price points (based on their individual needs), in every industry; there is no reason that different providers cannot distinguish themselves in the market for swimming lessons as either non-profit or for-profit.
Goldfish Swim School Oakville
1130 Eighth Line, Unit 17
(289) 806 - 3919