When I was in my early 20’s I went on my OE and worked in a swim school in Scotland. Ever since then a seed was planted in my mind that one day I too could have my own swim school.
For years I have taught kids to swim and loved it!
My dream was that one day I would have a swim school to call my own.
I started teaching kids to swim at 18 years old in an Auckland swim school. I loved it, but the pull of going overseas was too much, so off I went on a trip of a life time.
I started working in a summer camp in America working as a life guard and a swim teacher. One day we had all these new kids come to the camp and we asked them if they could swim. Some of the girls said no but most said yes. We were located on a lake; the girls that had clearly said they could swim were to swim from the end of the pontoon out to another pontoon and back.
These girls were jumping in the water and going straight to the bottom of the lake. Lucky there were about 10 of us lifeguards. We were jumping in and rescuing the girls left right and centre.
After spending a summer in America I decided to go to the UK to live and experience life over there.
I applied and got a job working for a local swim school over in Edinburgh. I started as a swim teacher but quickly worked up to managing the pools and the office. I loved management and my boss at the time said
“Helene you could have your own swim school one day. You would be amazing at it”
I have always remembered her saying that and from then on the seed was planted.”
Where do you start though?
How do you go about starting your own swim school?
Don’t I need heaps of money?
Maybe a pool would be good.
Once I got home I went to see a man that had taught me to swim all those years ago to see if he could offer me a job. Of course he offered me a job, I am amazing! Or so I thought I was.
Once again I started as a swim teacher, which felt like a step backwards after managing and pretty much running the swim school in Scotland. But I had to start somewhere and I loved teaching kids so much I wasn’t bothered that I was earning half of what I was in Scotland because I was doing the best job in the world. I was teaching kids to swim!
Once again I quickly moved up in the ranks and was ended up managing and teaching full time for him. I was paid extremely well and put lots of time and energy into my job. After about 9 years working for this local Auckland swim school and having two children I felt like it was time for me to go off on my own. I did a certificate in small business management and I felt like I had direction.
I put a proposal into a local school that had an outdoor pool. The board of trustees said yes and I was away. I was to teach the local kids how to swim in the afternoons. It was great! I had set up a website and got a logo for my swim school.
I called myself “Turtle Swim School”. This was special to me because “Turtle” was my husband’s nick name for years. It felt like a name that resonated with my family.
I was in love with my little swim school! I could do it in the hours that suited me, around my family. For three summers Turtle Swim School ran out of Owairaka District School in Auckland.
Until we decided to move our family to Papamoa, Tauranga. We wanted our kids to grow up near the beach and my husband was over the traffic. So then the tears started streaming down my face.
I had just started my swim school, the dream I had, had for over 10 years was about to end.
Or was it?
We decided to look for a house that had a pool that I could use to work out of.
We searched and searched. Nothing was coming up so of course there were more tears. I must admit that all the tears were also due to the fact that I was also pregnant again with our third child.
I was now pregnant, hormonal and looking for a very specific house. There was one house which we fell in love with. It was built in the 70’s, 4 bedrooms only 300 meters from the beach and had a pool. It was perfect but after getting it checked out by a builder we were advised against buying it. There were too many major issues with this house! So of course more tears!
Was I ever going to get my dream again or were we just going to get a house in the beautiful bay of plenty and say good bye to my dream of working out of home and having Turtle Swim School start again.
We stumbled across a house only a few meters from my sister’s house and after it being on trade me for a night and my brother in law having a look through it. We put an offer in on this house. No pool though, but potential!
The dream was back! Or was it………
We moved in May 2015 and I had my daughter in January 2016. My husband was on my case about putting this pool in. But I felt like it was in the too hard basket. We had just brought a house and now I had pressure to put the pool in and get things started and I had also just had a baby! My husband is away for work so I have three children by myself most of the time.
I got a few quotes and they were all between 80-100K. There were more tears wondering where this kind of money was going to come from. I also thought I better go and ask my neighbours because if they were going to be extremely unhappy about it then the dream would also not be happening. I was so nervous! If you know me I am not normally a nervous person but I plucked up the courage to go and ask my neighbours because it meant so much to me. They both said yes and then relief oh my goodness. Tears of happiness!
In June 2016 after the bank said yes, we said yes to Penguin Pools and by October 2016 we had a 12 meter pool. That wasn’t after lots of tears as well. At one stage I thought that my neighbours shed was going to fall into this massive hole they had dug. There were lots of sleepless nights!
You know when you go to the beach and you dig a hole, the water comes in and the sides keep collapsing. That is what happened to our hole. It started off being the right size for the pool and with our water table being extremely high, the hole just kept getting bigger and bigger!
Tears, tears and more tears!
I was pretty much fully booked and ready to go in October for the first lessons with Turtle Swim School in Papamoa!
Lessons went extremely well! I loved it. Classes are a maximum of four children and are affordable for the community.
We live near the beach and it is essential to learn to swim.
I am missing not being in the water over the winter but I look forward to getting back in and teaching kids in our local community again this coming summer.
This year there is less stress, less tears and lots of love, excitement, laughter and play!
Turtle Swim School looks forward to seeing lots of new and old faces this coming summer.
If you are keen to have lessons with Helene this summer contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org