While some parents might balk at the notion that a child just months after their birth should be taught how to swim, there’s some sobering information out there that may have you thinking twice about its importance.
Saf-T-Swim is a childhood swim school with 13 locations throughout Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens, and according to Vinny Gerstel – District Manager and head of the company’s training department – it’s never too early to get your child accustomed to water.
“Our message is to reach as many swimmers as possible, because drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of 12,” he said. “As many swimmers as we can get in the water – especially before the upcoming spring and summer seasons – it’s even that much more important.”
Saf-T-Swim was originally founded back in 1984 by Jim Hazen; in September 2019 Hazen retired and sold the school to Streamline Brands, a company that currently owns approximately 250 swim schools across the country.
Under the new ownership by Streamline Brands, Saf-T-Swim expanded outside of Nassau and Suffolk for the first time in 2022, opening a new location in the little Neck, Queens. As time goes by, further expansion is expected – including into Westchester and beyond, via our sister brand Safe Splash – as the Saf-T-Swim brand continues to grow, according to Gerstel.
“Having the backing of a larger entity really helped us to be able to reach more swimmers, more families, and teach more lessons,” he said. “We’ve been able to upgrade and expand a lot of our current facilities. We’ve also improved our processes and our training, and we’ve enhanced our curriculum. So now we have what we call the best curriculum in the swim industry, and that’s all going to help the swimmers.”
Currently, Saf-T-Swim has locations in Riverhead, Coram, Bohemia, Smithtown, Commack, Deer Park, Melville, Levittown, Bellmore, Garden City, Oceanside, New Hyde Park, and Little Neck.
One of the most exciting developments at Saf-T-Swim under their new ownership is the introduction of group classes – a first for the company – which Gerstel said is a way to make their services both more affordable and more available to the public at large.
“During the pandemic we offered a lot of private swimming lessons, so parents didn’t have to worry about their swimmers being around other people,” he said. “But our biggest new addition is the introduction of group lessons, which we are very excited about. We’re still doing a lot of private, one-on-one and two-on-one classes, but the group classes offer a four-to-one teacher-to-student ratio, so the price is more affordable but the swimmers are still getting very close attention.”
Other courses offered a Saf-T-Swim include a competitive swim team, The “ParentTot” program – which, as the name implies, puts children in the water with their guardians – and much more.
Like many companies, Saf-T-Swim was forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the government-mandated shutdowns provided a great deal of hardship at the time, the brand has emerged from the other side and are once again operating at full capacity.
“In the beginning it was slow to get going, but we did a really good job of making it a safe place for parents and children to go. We had the swimmers wearing masks even though the local health agencies said it wasn’t necessary,” he said. “We followed the CDC guidelines and we got through it just like everyone else. Now that we’re on the other side of it, there are no lingering effects…the majority of our customers came back and they are feeling good about it.”
But, ultimately, Gerstel said that the goal is to spread the word that a child having the ability to swim is absolutely vital, and that there’s no better place to acquire that skill than at your local Saf-T-Swim location.
“The message we kept sending during the pandemic is that swimming is important,” he said. “During the pandemic, a lot of people were putting pools into their backyard, so there’s a huge necessity for what we do. We start with swimmers as young as 4 months old, because it’s vitally important for young children to have the ability to swim. It just might save their life one day.”
To find out more about Saf-T-Swim, please call 866-723-3794, email them at email@example.com, or visit their website at https://www.saf-t-swim.com.