Losing to Michael Phelps helped turn this star swimmer into a successful entrepreneur

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In 2008, DeJong, who However he dropped. “I understood, Then my swimming career was finished. I did not understand what I’d do,” said DeJong, that was 24 years old at the moment.

Yet, it had been. Today, DeJong conducts the Large Blue Swim School, a company that he co-founded in 2012 that provides swimming lessons for children. The school now operates five places in the vicinity of Chicago. After turning the operation to a company past October, DeJong is expecting that there will likely be many as 400 locations nationwide in another ten decades.

“To be perfectly honest, I am fairly certain when I’d made the group, I’d haven’t left the game with the desire required to initiate a company,” he explained.

DeJong’s Love of swimming dates back to his youth.

“I climbed Up at a tiny city near Lake Michigan and could swim all of the time,” he explained.

“Later, “It is just not possible to escape the water at a worse mood than when you have into the water.”
But after It had been a fleeting thought. Was not prepared to turn back the swimming pool.

To make Finishes meet, DeJong was supplying personal swim lessons to 3 – to five-year-olds from the Chicago area. It was an essential operation initially, and he primarily relied upon his standing as an elite swimmer to draw new customers.

“I Would rent pool distance at which I could find it from the suburbs,” he explained.

He enlisted the assistance of his buddy John Lonergan, a competitive swimmer in the University of Iowa, and also both educated weekly swim lessons.

Each 30-minute lesson price $20. For DeJong, instructing children was a means to recoup from the blow-off of his reduction and rediscover the pleasure of swimming.

“We did These courses for two-and-a-half decades and realized we had as many as 600 children we had been instructing each week,” said DeJong. “Plus we had been making money.”

Both Devised a business plan and hunted investors, including some parents of all pupils, to finance the building of a permanent pool.

DeJong Explained Parents were fans of his teaching strategy, which he had according to his instruction. “parents enjoyed that we’re instructing a critical life skill. And our strategy was to instruct a kid not only to swim but to float independently and round the pool at the first ten courses,” he explained.

One of those
Ricketts and A couple of other early investors collectively invested $1.2 million, which aided DeJong to secure the place to construct a permanent pool.

In April DeJong
“In our And we utilize antifungal carpets on the floors to prevent falls and reduce sound,” he explained. The college also includes an air-conditioned screening area with complimentary Wi-Fi for both parents.

The Provider Also provided its applications called”Lesson Buddy” that allows parents program classes and see their child’s improvement in real-time.

Only Weekly After launching, registration in the school jumped out of 600 pupils. (who migrated over in the personal classes with DeJong and Lonergan along with some different teachers ) to 2,200.

Initially, DeJong said the team was overwhelmed with all the rapid growth, but they’ve been able to maintain and bring several new shareholders.

So Far, Big Blue Swim School has increased a total amount of $20 million, including $16 million in Level 5 Capital Partners, which acquired a vast majority stake in the organization and can be a franchising spouse.

“[Big Financially it was a good company, and we particularly enjoyed that the company possesses its proprietary technologies,” said Scott Thompson, chief development officer with Grade 5 Capital Partners.

“While the children are in the pool, there is also personnel walking alongside observing and supplying advice and progress reports back to the parents at real-time through an iPad,” explained Thompson.

He declined to disclose annual earnings but said the company is profitable.

According to

While the Steep initial investment could deter some prospective franchisees, Thompson stated it also functions as a barrier to entry to people who might not be the ideal fit.

Erik and Wendy Skaalerud intend to start Big Blue Swim School places in the Denver metro region in another four decades.

“Swimming That is the reason why we became concerned,” explained Wendy. “But we like the total teaching philosophy of developing confidence through swimming and by establishing goals.”

For DeJong, The sudden pivot from an athlete into a first-time entrepreneur with no prior business experience hardened.

“I Describe it as constructing a plane as I am flying it,” he explained.

“Obtaining Up following a disappointment is at least as significant in swimming pool since it’s In company,” he explained.

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