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Big Blue Swim School Inks Deals to Open 15 Swim Schools in Philadelphia and New Jersey

Three franchise partners contribute to the brand’s growth in the northeast, including Olympian Kristy Kowal.

CHICAGO (May 9, 2022) - Big Blue Swim School, one of the nation’s fastest-growing learn-to-swim franchises, announces three new agreements to open 15 swim schools in Philadelphia and South and Central New Jersey. With those 15 schools, Big Blue has the opportunity to offer life-saving skills to more than 22,000 students each week when fully operational. Badr Kayali, Jamey and Julia Holmes, and Erica, Keith, and Kristy Kowal will open locations in the two states offering Big Blue’s best-in-class swim school experience to local families.  The anticipated opening for the first three locations is spring 2023. 

Though each franchise partner joins Big Blue individually, the three families will collaborate and work together to ensure that Big Blue Swim School is the premier swim lesson destination for families across Philadelphia and South and Central New Jersey. Big Blue’s newest franchise partners include Badr Kayali, who will open five units in Philadelphia, Erica, Keith, and Kristy Kowal, who have plans for five in Philadelphia and South New Jersey; and Jamey and Julia Holmes round out the region with five units in Central New Jersey. With these agreements, Big Blue Swim School has awarded 214 units in 24 states to date. 

Pennsylvania mom and former schoolteacher Erica Kowal brings a unique viewpoint and passion to Big Blue Swim School. Not only is her sister-in-law and business partner Olympic silver medalist in the 200-meter breaststroke and former world record holder Kristy Kowal, but she also understands first-hand the importance of teaching children how to swim confidently.  

“I’m beyond excited to join Big Blue Swim School, partnering with my brother and sister-in-law to open schools in Philadelphia,” Kristy Kowal says. “Since retiring from swimming, I’ve made it my mission to not only pass on my love of swimming to the next generation but also promote the need for this life-saving skill. Opening a Big Blue gives me the opportunity to continue this commitment with an organization that is dedicated to empowering children and creating a lifelong love of the water.”

The new Big Blue Swim Schools in Pennsylvania and New Jersey offer children from three months to 12 years an unparalleled weekly swim lesson experience. With highly trained swim instructors, proprietary curriculum, and best-in-class facility amenities, Big Blue has evolved the learn-to-swim experience, so it is enjoyable for kids and parents alike. And with its proprietary mobile app and convenient locations, Big Blue makes it easy to fit into a family’s busy schedule.

“We’re thrilled to sign on with these three franchise partners to help us grow Big Blue in Philadelphia and New Jersey,” says Scott Sanders, CEO of Big Blue Swim School. “What makes this announcement even more exciting for us is that since signing their original agreements in 2021, two of the three families were awarded additional units this year. This additional investment speaks to their confidence in our leadership, proprietary technology, and data-driven real estate selection process. We’re excited to continue to grow with them and add their pools to our Big Blue family while strengthening our presence in the northeast.” 

The brand is actively looking for qualified franchise partners to develop in several other key markets across the country, including San Jose, Kansas City, Cleveland, Seattle, Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay, among others.

To learn more about franchising with Big Blue Swim School, visit 


Big Blue Swim School was founded in 2009 by competitive swimmer Chris DeJong. The first location opened in Wilmette, Illinois, followed by four additional Chicagoland schools. In 2017, Level 5 Capital Partners acquired a stake in the brand, and pools are now open in Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, and Northern Virginia. Big Blue is currently growing through franchising with plans to have a minimum of 240 pools sold by the end of 2022. Big Blue Swim School's real estate expertise, strong brand, proprietary technology, and leadership support, coupled with its best-in-class consumer offerings, position its franchise partners for long-term success. To learn more about franchise opportunities with Big Blue Swim School, visit