Big Blue Swim School Sets Its Sights on California for Expansion

by SwimSwam Partner Content Off

September 14th, 2020 Learn to Swim

Courtesy: Big Blue Swim School

After leaving behind his competitive swimming career in 2008, U.S. national champion swimmer Chris DeJong decided to embark on a new venture of his own creation — Big Blue Swim School. In the decade since then, DeJong has led the Illinois-based swim instruction franchise to become an emerging franchisor positioned to become the leader in the lucrative $3 billion swim school industry.

With Atlanta-based Level 5 Capital Partners’ investment in the brand in 2018, Big Blue Swim School is establishing a growing footprint with signed franchise agreements in strategic markets including Chicago; Salt Lake City; Minneapolis; Atlanta; Detroit; Raleigh, North Carolina; Hartford, Connecticut; and Austin, Texas, as well as in the states of New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, and South Carolina. The brand is currently heading to the West Coast to break into the California market, which the Big Blue leadership team sees as full of potential for the right franchise partners.

“California is the seventh-largest economy in the world with a dense population of kids ages zero to nine years, making it a strong fit for Big Blue Swim School,” said Chief Development Officer Scott Thompson.

While most competitors address children aged six months to five years, Big Blue caters to ages six months to 12 years, resulting in a 30 percent increase in the learn-to-swim addressable market.

“Big Blue is in a strong position to deliver the highest quality swim lessons while also providing more scheduling options allowing siblings to swim in the same half-hour window,” Thompson said. “Our optimized capacity planning and facility layout make it the most convenient option for the dual working-parent households which are common in California. Our business model and proprietary technology conveniently meet the needs of children, parents and franchise partners. We are confident that the demand in California will be strong for our technology-enabled service.” 

The company’s cloud-based enterprise system, LessonBuddy™, is designed so franchise partners can operate successful pools without needing a daily presence. It also lets parents conveniently schedule lessons and track students’ progress. The brand also utilizes the data collected by LessonBuddy to modify staffing levels. The technology-driven model sets the brand ahead of its competition. Big Blue has identified several high-priority territories for expansion, including San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco and the Bay Area.

Additionally, California’s unparalleled metropolitan development and economic boom translates to opportunities for prime real estate. Big Blue has a team to assist in real estate, construction and facilities that uses market knowledge and a data-driven real estate assessment methodology to identify the best real estate in trade areas across the country that fit the brand’s member profile.

Big Blue has also developed a thorough pre-opening marketing strategy designed to generate revenue prior to opening. Their proven weekly process includes a robust marketing plan that ensures each location performs at a high level from day one. Big Blue provides franchisor-operated marketing that optimizes customer acquisition and retention strategies before the doors are even open.

“We are looking for qualified franchise partners who are capable team builders,” said Thompson. “Big Blue prioritizes franchise partner success, providing a high level of support as well as a best-in-class technology stack to ensure that each franchise partner can be focused on customer service, hiring, and retaining and training top talent.”

In addition, Big Blue’s strong unit-level economics, turnkey operations, significant leadership support, capacity planning and kid-friendly 90-degree pools have quickly established the brand as an impressive player in the fragmented swim lesson franchise segment. The Big Blue investment opportunity and proven business model is ideal for multi-unit and semi-absentee franchise partners looking to maximize their time and their capital — not only in California, but across the nation.

Looking at the growth potential in California, the Big Blue team anticipates the potential for 50 sites, including 25 to 35 in Los Angeles, 20 to 25 in San Francisco and three to four sites in San Diego. Thompson notes the brand is hoping to open its first pool in California within the next 18 months.

Big Blue has already sold 81 units in 18 states to qualified franchise partners and the brand is well on its way to achieving its goal of 150 pools signed by the end of 2021.

Multi-unit franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $80,000 franchise fee. The total investment necessary to begin operation of a new Big Blue Swim School is $2,329,223 to $3,636,998 (refer to item 7 in FDD)” To learn more or inquire 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. Through that investment, Big Blue plans to grow through franchising to 150 pools by 2021. 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

Big Blue Swim School is a SwimSwam Partner. 

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