Small Business Saturday, Featuring Houston Swim Club

 

Most of us have our kids in at least one sport activity at one time or another. Even with young kids, it’s always been important to us for our kids to do something outside of school that helps build confidence, teach them what it means to be on a team, and a chance to learn and master new skills while being healthy and active.

We’ve been so blessed by the activities we’ve gotten to try- from gymnastics, to soccer, it’s been so fun. But having our children enrolled in a program that could literally save their life, that’s a whole new level of feeling blessed. Choosing to enroll our children for swim lessons at Houston Swim Club was undoubtably one of the best decisions we could have made.

Not only are our children building the most beautiful confidence in themselves, they’ve got a new healthy, happy relationship with the water, as well as with their swim instructors. We’ve never seen our kiddos so excited for an activity and we often watch their progress from the viewing room with tears in our eyes at how well they’re doing and how happy they are while doing it.

As moms, when you’re not around you want them to be in the most loving, gentle, safe, capable hands. The entire staff at HSC have been phenomenal with our children and it’s clear that this approach is what sets them apart and allows children who were once terrified of the water, become little fish before our eyes.

If you follow along on our Instagram stories, you know we’ve been a frequent guest at HSC since the beginning of February. We just love this place and you know when we love something we have to tell all of you! So, that’s why today we’d like to showcase HSC as our Small Business Saturday feature and give you mamas an inside look into why they’re so special, not only to us, but to so many mamas and kids in the Katy community.

 

 

Why We Chose HSC

 

For us, all the great places we’ve ended up at in Katy involved us just stepping through the door. It involved us getting over whatever barrier we thought was in front of us like drive time, location, price, etc. and just walking in the door. That’s when you get to FEEL a place out and get the gut feeling if a place is special. It allows you to feel the energy of those who greet you from the moment you walk in all the way to the staff members and teachers working with the kids in classes. It’s those special places that throughout your tour make you feel comfortable, safe, warm…and like family.

The minute we walked through the doors of Houston Swim Club, we knew this was the place we wanted our kids to learn how to swim. The fact that they’re locally and family owned and operated is a bonus, but it wasn’t until after a full tour from their fabulous Site Director, Jennifer Hawes, and research into their gentle teaching methods to get children to truly love the water, that we knew we were hooked. Yes, it helped the HSC came highly recommended by so many moms we asked, but for us, we had to see it for ourselves.

Starting in February, we got our girls who are 4.5 and 5 enrolled and Audrey’s little one, Miles, got to start just this week since he’s 2.5 Nat will start with Mommy & Me classes with her Jack until he’s 2.5 this summer and she’ll enroll him in the same program as the others. The four kids we have between us range from scared, to cautious, to too confident around the water and we wanted to make sure the program was what we wanted and most importantly that the staff was experienced and loving.

And you mamas, Houston Swim Club is the best we’ve seen out there on all fronts. It’s truly been such a dream.

 

Some HSC History

Houston Swim Club was started in 1961 with a proven curriculum developed by University of Houston head coach and U.S. Olympic coach Phill Hansel. His AMAZING teaching method is still used by them today.

Tracy Laman, daughter of the owners and Aquatics Director of all five HSC locations, is still in the water teaching kids, because that’s where her passion lies. Tracy is a mom of two and watching her teach on our first day it was so clear we made the right choice. That teaching style is what’s been passed on to all the coaches there and most of them have been there for years.

Phil Hansen opened the first swim school in Sharpstown in 1973. Tracy and her two sisters grew up working there, and their mom, Bonnie Howe, answered the phones. In 1994, Phil had a stoke and offered to sell the business to Bonnie. Even though Bonnie’s husband did not approve, she borrowed money from everyone she knew and took out loans to buy the pool and the rest is history! In 2001, they opened up Sugar Land, Katy came in 2006, in 2009 came Pearland, and finally in 2013 they opened Cypress.

Each summer they teach 1,800 kids a week at each location. One of Tracy’s sisters and her husband own the Pearland and Cypress locations and her other sister is still a teacher, as well. Of Bonnie’s 9 grandchildren, 7 have worked at the pool. This is 100% a local, family business and we couldn’t love their passion more.

 

The Staff & Their Loving, Gentle Approach

HSC combines a safe, nurturing, and loving environment with OVER 50 YEARS of professional experience to teach kiddos how to achieve their swimming goals while also having fun. During the past fifty-five years, HSC has taught over a QUARTER OF A MILLION STUDENTS. Their confidence in their teaching methods and abilities and their policy to teach with love and joy in a happy, positive, and structured atmosphere is what keeps Katy families coming back.

Many of us have heard of Survival Swim or Infant Swimming Resource (ISR). It’s a method that has grown in popularity over the last decade, but some experts caution that it can be traumatic for kids. This method is known to use “fear-based conditioned learning” by simulating what would happen if a child fell in the water. This style of teaching includes repeated drops into the water and being pushed off the edge of the pool to know what it feels like to fall in. Houston Swim Club does NOT do this. It’s truly their mission for kids to love the water and look forward to swim class. HSC offers a positive environment for learning and consider their approach “LOVINGLY DISCIPLINED” by teaching with love in a positive and structured atmosphere.

Most of the instructors at HSC have been there for years. That says something! Even when we post videos of our kids swimming, we’ll get messages from moms who had Mr. George or Ms. Jennifer years ago! And yes, that’s the same Ms. Jennifer who is also Site Director! Even the owners daughter Tracy who designs all the curriculum for each swim school still get in the pool and teaches! Not because they have to, but because they want to. It’s such a passion for them to get in there and help kids learn. We’ve had a total of six coaches in there with our kids at one time or another and each one is wonderful in their own unique way. Each class begins and ends with high fives and hugs. When our Harper finally floated unassisted on her back, coaches she didn’t even know, along with her 2-week everyday instructor Mr. George came over for praises and hugs. The smiles on our kids faces, y’all, that’s the difference.

Locally Owned

Not to take anything away from locally operated franchise swim schools in Katy, but you just can’t get better than family owned and a business that started right here in the Houston area. Franchise models often have to answer to corporate standards and have to offer rates set out by a business outside of Texas. We found the HSC rates to be some of the best and they’re able to design a swim program the way they want, for what they know is best for kids, and they have years of proven success behind them.
Many staff members and coaches at each location have been with HSC for years and that’s telling! We think this expertise combined with the fact that their locally owned and operated, is what’s made them the best in the area for years and years.
Trust us, you walk in that door, you can feel the love!
The Facility & Classes

Their Katy location is conveniently located off the Fry Rd exit on I-10 and their pools are clean and warm. You’re able to watch your child through two sections of clear class or sit in the middle where you can see the kiddos, but they can’t see you. It’s brilliant because it teaches them to not lean on the parents approving eye for confidence, but once they get some confidence and see you through the clear glass, their eyes light up at how proud you are. They learn to build confidence in themselves with the help of their coach first and then love to watch for a mama and daddy thumbs up from time to time!
Classes are offered year round and the pools are a comfortable, warm 90-92 degrees. There’s a smaller baby pool for younger kiddos and a larger pool with fun water slide. All pools feature a soft salt water and UV sanitation system. Comfortable and clean!
Each class is only 30 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time that doesn’t totally wear the kids out. They also have smaller class sizes, which we love. With a 4:1 student/teacher ratio (6:1 for Parent-Child classes and 3:1 for new student levels), your kids get a lot of instructor attention. There’s also multiple lifeguards on duty for each session, adding a layer of comfort for the parents watching behind the class.
The class levels are designed with years of experience and knowledge that allow us parents to trust our kiddos are always right where they need to be. As their mama, we never have to worry about what the next level is or when they’re ready for the float test because the instructors will know when the child is ready. Although only 30-minute increments, they get to know the child, continue to check the pulse on their confidence to be pushed to do new things, and aren’t timid in pulling back if they see the child needs to move slower. Recognizing that each child is different and learns different is what’s so important, especially when teaching water safety and swim lessons.

What To Expect & Trusting The Process

 

If you’ve made it this far, it’s clear why we love HSC. If you think you’ll love it too, it’s important to know what to expect.

If your child is 2.5 or older, it’s very important they go through the 2-week, every day program. Why 2 weeks every day? In order to get the best result, your children have to trust the teacher and be comfortable in the water. We teach children to not talk to strangers or go near the water, so it goes against everything they are taught when we take them to swim lessons. These 2 weeks (yes, every day) allows the child to build a relationship with their instructor and build that trust quickly. It gets them in a rhythm and comfortable with the water.

After these 2 weeks, your kiddo will learn 3 main safety skills – breath control (can hold breath for 6-8 secs), swim back to the bricks and hold onto the wall, and back floating. By the end of the two weeks, 100% of the kids can do the first two safety skills and 80% can back float unassisted. This is their promise and they’re confident in it!

Our girls were very reluctant on day one, one of our girls even screamed and cried (yes, traumatic even more Mom!) and here we are, almost at the end of our 2-week everyday session, and you wouldn’t believe the confidence in them and what they’ve learned!

Here’s where we preach for a moment though and ask you to trust the process. The two-week session is a giant time commitment, for any parent, but it’s a non negotiable for HSC, so we trusted it. Even on day 2, we could see why it was important to keep this aspect. What we can say is, if we can get to a class every day, ANYONE can. One of us works full time and the other always has an active toddler in tow, but we made it happen!

You also need to be sure to trust in the age range/classes you’re put in. Because our girls are only 4 months apart, we were confused why they weren’t in the same class and why a 4.5 year old would be in a class with a 3 year old. But again, we needed to trust the process and trust the experts, and we GET IT. Bree, who’s almost 5, is learning how to truly swim. Whereas Harper, who’s just 4.5, is learning more survival-like floating techniques that are needed before the age of 5.

Your kiddo also can’t start lessons without you until they’re 2.5. You can sign them up as young as 4 months for mommy-and-me classes and those look like so much fun from what we see! But they cannot go out on their own with a coach until 2.5. So, this is important to know, as well.

Again, TRUST THEM. They know their stuff!

 

 

For more information about Houston Swim Club, be sure to check out their website and give them a follow on social!

 

**Because Houston Swim is so supportive of our platform and all of you, they’ve got a special Katy Moms offer to share! Any new family who signs up for swim lessons and mentions Katy Moms Network, you’ll get $25 off!**

 

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