Sunday, May 19, 2024

Local swim coach makes a big splash with new school

Technically, Danielle Bakic could operate her one-of-a-kind swim school for kids anywhere if she had to. And trust her — she has. At several points during her 18-year coaching career, she has used community pools, backyard pools, and even her own pool at home. She even exchanged free lessons with any parent willing to let her use their pool.

That’s a lot of moving around. But no matter where she was with her fins and can-do-anything attitude, little swimmers would arrive in droves at Swimming Fishies Swim School because their parents knew Coach Danielle and her team were the best options for a successful outcome.

But at some point, you’ve got to sink or swim with a dedicated location of your own.

“It’s been an interesting road for sure, and I’ll be the first to admit that as passionate as I am about teaching kids to swim, there were plenty of times when the emotions of having to move so much made me want to give up on my dream,” said Bakic, an artist, writer, coach, inventor, and motivational speaker whose family moved 14 times during her first seven years of marriage, forcing her to restart her swim school each time. “Two summers ago, I was frantically moving between four backyard pools per month.”

“Finally, my husband said, ‘I have had enough. I’m building your dream swim school.’ It was the best decision we could have made. I started this 18 years ago as a stay-at-home mom to make extra money in the summer. Now, we operate a swim school with 24 coaches and nearly 200 kids a day. It shows that you should always believe in yourself and never give up.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 4,000 people fatally drown in the United States each year, and over 8,000 people experience non-fatal drowning events. Texas ranks second from the highest tier of drownings per year. Most of these drownings happen to children ages 1-4 and in a swimming pool. Needless to say, Bakic’s passion for teaching kids how to swim and saving lives knows no limits, and Swimming Fishies Swim School is a picture-perfect representation of that. Not only do an overwhelming majority of Bakic’s students learn to swim and conquer their fear of the water in nine days of private swim lessons — as opposed to up to one year or longer with many big-box schools — but the 3,500 square-foot facility itself is decked out with the same candy/sweets theme from her children’s book, “My Swim Adventure.”

Danielle Bakic makes learning to swim fun at Swimming Fishies Swim School. (Photo by Lynn Seeden/Seeden Photography)

Bakic and her team spent over 130 hours crafting larger-than-life murals and paintings of cupcakes, cotton candy clouds, waffles, donuts, mermaid and shark caricatures, ice cream sundaes, and more. Inspirational signs line the pool with sayings such as, “You’re Brave and Strong,” “You Can Do It,” and “Every day, I’m Getting Better.”

The goal, of course, is to prevent fatal and non-fatal drowning accidents and convince more parents to register their children for swim lessons. At the same time, she wants each child to feel like the brave, strong, and confident swimmers they are and take those affirmations with them through all the challenges they face in life after swim lessons. To accomplish this, Bakic has two swimmers to one instructor for semi-private lessons and her highly successful private 30-minute lessons. She also created and patented a swimming tool that goes on each swimmer’s legs to train and develop proper kicking techniques with their legs together and knees slightly bent. This is the foundation for learning to swim and something that can’t be taught enough. By adhering to these fundamental kicking techniques, little swimmers can swim slowly while creating muscle memory and confidence with each stroke.

Along with Bakic’s trademark “yummy and positive” approach to learning to swim, parents are encouraged to sit, watch, and cheer their kids on next to the pool rather than be far away from the action or behind a pane of glass like many other swim schools.

“We want our parents involved as much as possible,” Bakic said. Her book also includes a parental instruction guide to help parents effectively reinforce positive swimming techniques. “They should be right there celebrating their kids’ successes.”

Swimming Fishies offers lessons for kids ages 18 months and up, swim team and strokes, and classes for children with special needs. They also have adult classes for those who want to learn to swim and be confident in the water.

“When your kids come to our swimming lessons, I want it to be an enjoyable experience unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Water safety and drowning prevention are incredibly important, and we want to do everything possible to keep kids safe,” Bakic said. “Our facility is a life’s dream come true and truly needs to be seen and experienced to be believed. It’s a different kind of swim school, and things are going so well right now that we’re considering a second location and franchising opportunities.”

Swimming Fishies Swim School is located in Argyle on Frenchtown Road, one mile east of Sonic. You can stop by to check them out or visit them on Facebook (swimmingfishiesswimschool), Instagram (@swimming.fishies), and at www.swimmingfishies.net. Her book is available on Amazon (“My Swim Adventure” ages 5+ or “My 1st Swim Adventure” ages under 4).

(Sponsored content)

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