After finishing behind Michael Phelps caused him to miss out from the Olympics for a second time by only three-tenths of a second, Chris DeJong decided he was done losing. It was 2009, and DeJong had recently left his competitive swimming career behind for a new venture called Big Blue Swim School.
Fast-forward a decade, and Big Blue Swim School is pursuing nationwide growth at an impressive clip, as evidenced through the recent signing of several major multi-unit deals in Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver and Salt Lake City. The nation’s leading swim school franchise isn’t stopping there, either—as part of its partnership with private equity firm Level 5 Capital Partners, Big Blue Swim School is bringing 11 locations to the Atlanta metro area, the first of which is set to open in Johns Creek later this year.
Big Blue Swim School’s entry into the Atlanta market has been in the works since 2017, when Atlanta-based Level 5 Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in the brand. After growing CorePower Yoga from one studio to become the third-largest yoga studio operator in the U.S., Level 5 was looking to make a strategic investment in another young brand with potential, and Big Blue Swim School fit the bill. Part of Level 5’s plan to grow the brand to 150 locations by 2020 through franchising, of course, included its home city.
Level 5 Capital Partners Managing Partner and Big Blue Swim School CEO Chris Kenny will act as the franchisee for the brand’s 11 future Atlanta-area locations, the first of which is set to open in Johns Creek this fall. Big Blue Swim School’s new address in the neighborhood is 10955 Jones Bridge Road.
“We chose Johns Creek as the site of our first Georgia location due to its reputation for having great schools and a close-knit, family-oriented community,” Kenny said. “We found prime real estate right out of the gate, too, so everything converged to create the perfect setting for Big Blue to introduce itself to Atlanta. The neighborhoods around us are awesome, and we’re really a community-driven concept so we want to be nestled in as best we can with our community and the families nearby.”
Kenny and the rest of the team at Big Blue Swim School and Level 5 Capital are currently exploring real estate opportunities throughout the greater Atlanta area to develop the brand, with a focus on Ponce City, Buckhead and Druid Hills, in particular. Each location creates 25 to 35 jobs; in total, Big Blue Swim School’s Atlanta development commitment will bring 275 to 385 new jobs to the market.
Big Blue Swim School’s expert real estate selection, proprietary distance-based swimming curriculum, standout LessonBuddy technology that is both franchisee and consumer facing, and proven practice of employing full-time child engagement specialists all play a critical role in why the brand is quickly establishing itself as the dominant player in the swim lesson franchise segment, not only in Atlanta, but across the nation.
“For us, it’s all about teaching kids an essential life skill without sacrificing convenience for the entire family,” Kenny said. “Being able to come to Big Blue on a regular schedule without having to venture too far will set up so many families to feel confident in their children’s abilities so they can plan that fun next trip to the pool, beach or lake with peace of mind.”
Multi-unit opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $50,000 franchise fee. The total investment for one Big Blue Swim School ranges from $1,825,500 to $3,687,000. To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School, visit https://www.bigblueswimschool.com/franchising/.