After narrowly missing qualifying for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Chris DeJong was determined to make it to Beijing in 2008. “But he lost to Phelps by three-tenths of a second, effectively ending his Olympic dream,” according to an article on CNN. The loss, however, opened the door for DeJong to start Big Blue Swim School in 2012. “The school currently operates five locations in and around Chicago. After turning the operation into a franchise last October, DeJong is hoping there will be as many as 400 locations nationwide in the next 10 years,” the article said.
After his Olympics bid ended, DeJong taught swim lessons privately for several years before his clientele base grew too large, at which point he sought investors. “One of the first investors to come on board was Chicago Cubs co-owner and Republican National Committee Finance Chairman Todd Ricketts, whose daughter was already DeJong's student. Ricketts and a few other early investors together invested $1.2 million, which helped DeJong secure the location to build a permanent pool,” said the article.
Since then, “Big Blue Swim School has raised a total of $20 million, including $16 million from Level 5 Capital Partners, which acquired a majority stake in the company and is a franchising partner," the article said.
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