Steve Franks, CEO of UK’s Largest Baby Swim Lessons Group, Dies from COVID-19

Steve Franks, the CEO of UK-based swim lesson group Water Babies, has died as a result of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The news was first reported via a Tweet from Swim England CEO Jane Nickerson.

Franks was the Group CEO and managing director of Water Babies, a role he’s held since 2009. The chain of swim schools geared toward the youngest swimmers, specializing in lessons from newborns to four-and-a-half years old, has 76 franchised locations across Canada, China, Ireland, The Netherlands, and the UK. The organization boasts teaching lessons to around 52,000 babies a week, and is the largest swim school franchise in the United Kingdom.

Franks also served as the lead spokesperson for the Children First movement in the UK and a member of the ukactive Kids Council. Both organizations work to develop government policy promoting an active lifestyle for children.

Franks won a number of awards in his time leading Water Babies, and was the technical author of a UK nationwide guidelines document known as the British Standards Institute Code of Practice regarding best practices and guidelines for teaching babies to swim. The PAS 520:2017 outlines best practice for swim schools, swimming teachers, leisure operators, underwater photographers and carers of children aged 0 to 4.

Alison Ogden, the director of a Water Babies franchise in Liverpool, posted this Facebook post today, including words from one of the last emails he sent to the Water Babies team as the coronavirus pandemic unfurled.

The United Kingdom has 172,481 confirmed cases of coronavirus, fourth most in the world, and 26,771 deaths, third-most in the world. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the country was “past the peak of this disease.”

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Graham Morgan
2 years ago

Sad news. I did not know Steve personally, but was aware of the good work he was involved with. There are too few talented and inspirational people trying their hardest to improve children’s health and he will be missed. Wishing strength to his family and colleagues in these challenging times.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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