Big Blue Swim School Announces Merger with Largest Franchisee

Courtesy of Big Blue Swim School, a SwimSwam partner.

CHICAGO (January 9, 2024) – Big Blue Swim School, one of the country’s fastest-growing franchises in the $3 billion learn-to-swim industry, announces today that it is combining with Atlanta-based L5 Swim, previously its largest franchising partner. Upon closing, all L5 pools will become Big Blue corporate locations, expanding the corporate footprint from five to 14 locations, with an additional 34 in the pipeline.

“This combination is a testament to the confidence we have in our business model and reflects our commitment to continued growth and innovation,” explains Chris DeJong, president and founder of Big Blue Swim School. “Together, we will leverage the operational expertise of the L5 Swim team and the scale of our combined platforms to refine best practices, streamline operations and optimize communications, delivering significant value-add to our franchise community as we strive to become the leading global brand in swim education.”

By combining resources, talent and expertise, the Big Blue brand will be better positioned to pursue further growth and expansion. Integrating the L5 Swim team into the existing corporate team enables the company to be more aggressive in opening new corporate units while delivering greater value to customers, partners and employees.

“I’m delighted by this pivotal development in Big Blue’s journey,” says Tom Dolan, former CEO at L5 Swim and newly appointed President of Corporate Pools for Big Blue. “It’s an honor to join the Big Blue Senior Leadership Team and I’m excited to continue our work to drive best-in-class experiences for both our customers and our franchise system.”

As a leader at L5 Swim, Tom Dolan, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer, brings a wealth of experience and insight to our team. His experience operating locations from Virginia to Texas to California will be invaluable as the Big Blue brand continues to expand across the country.

With a unique curriculum, professional swim instructors, and comfortable and convenient facilities, Big Blue offers best-in-class swim lessons for kids ages three months to 12 years. Big Blue plans to have a minimum of 265 units sold by the end of 2024 and is opening additional locations throughout the U.S., including Miami, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte and Houston.

To learn more about 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, Salt Lake City, Detroit, St. Louis, Northern New Jersey, and Northern Virginia. Big Blue is currently growing through franchising with plans to have a minimum of 230 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

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