By B.C. Manion
A family that’s been offering swimming instructions for three decades will be opening a new swim school location in Meadow Pointe this summer.
Seal Swim School will operate out of leased space in a strip center at the southwest corner of County Line Road and Mansfield Boulevard in Wesley Chapel, said Micha Seal Beatty, one of the owners.
“The space that we have is going to be approximately 6,500 square feet,” Beatty said, noting that’s about the same size as the company’s swim school in Lutz.
The new location, at 30062 County Line Road, will offer swimming lessons, birthday parties and a free class for infants and their parents called Water Babies, Beatty said. She expects the facility to have about 15 employees.
Beatty said having a location in the Wesley Chapel/New Tampa area was appealing because many of Seal Swim School clients live in the area.
She thinks the new location will primarily draw from Wesley Chapel and New Tampa, but also may attract people from Zephyrhills, Dade City, Brandon, Temple Terrace and other nearby communities.
“We are very focused on what we do best. Beginner swimming is our niche,” Beatty said. She shares ownership of the new location with her mother, Therese Seal, who began the family’s swim school business at home in 1980.
While the school focuses on beginner swimmers, it also offers more advanced classes for students who want to develop strong technical skills, and offers courses for people of any age, Beatty said.
Its Water Babies course is designed for infants up to 6 months old.
“A lot of times, the new mommies, when they come into the parent-tot class — when their babies are anywhere between 6 and 20 months old — they come in very nervous. That, in turn, can make the child nervous,” Beatty said.
“This Water Babies class, it’s really an introduction to the water without submersion,” Beatty added, “So the babies are not going underwater, but the moms are learning the holds, and I don’t want to leave out the dads because we have lots of dads as well. … It’s preswimming lessons, basically.”
Beatty said parents interested in signing up their children for lessons should feel free to visit the Lutz facility at 19509 N. Dale Mabry Highway to observe lessons and ask questions about the program.
“We highly recommend that if a parent is looking for a swim program, they should come and watch,” Beatty said. “They want to make sure that that swim facility, that swim program, matches their philosophy and what they are looking for for their child. … There are many swim programs out there. You need to make sure that it fits right with your needs.”
People tend to sign up for swimming classes in the spring and early summer, Beatty said but she thinks they should consider lessons in the fall and winter months.
“Our phones go crazy come April and May. That’s when everybody wants to learn how to swim,” Beatty said. “Really and truly, they need to be ready before that, so that when the weather is warm and they’re attracted to that water, they know what to do.”
The most important thing, she said, is to make sure children learn how to swim, especially in Florida where there are so many opportunities for a child to drown.
“We lead the country in accidental childhood death by drowning,” Beatty said. “We have everything. It’s neighborhood pools, it’s ponds, it’s the beach, it’s everywhere.”
Melanie Stairs, the swim school’s marketing manager, added, “Hillsborough County leads the state in drownings under age 4.”
To help combat the problem, Seal Swim School offers a Water Safety Program it presents to preschools and schools.
The new facility, much like the one in Lutz, will have a viewing area where people can watch the lessons. It will also have a retail shop where people can buy swim gear.
Beatty, her sisters and her mother have all devoted their lives to helping others learn to swim.
“When I go to work every morning, I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do,” Beatty said. “When you get that call from a parent who wants to put their 4-year-old in because their 2-year-old has drowned, you know you’re in the right line of business.”
For more information
To learn more about Seal Swim School, visit www.sealswimschool.com.
For more information on drowning prevention, call (813) 615-0589 or visit www.hillsboroughwatersafetyteam.org/.
Water Safety Tips
Ways to improve safety:
—Never leave a child unattended at a pool or a spa.
—Teach children basic water safety skills.
—Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings.
—Have a telephone nearby to enable a quick call to emergency agencies.
—If a child is missing, check the pool or spa first.
—Install a 4-foot fence around the perimeter of the pool with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
—Having life-saving equipment such as life rings or floats available and easily accessible.
For more information, visit www.PoolSafely.gov.
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