Already established in Reno, Silver Bear Swim School recently opened a new school in Sparks, off Los Altos Parkway, during the first week of July. The new school was built to take some pressure off the Reno location. Now, with two months under the new building’s belt, children as young as 6-months-old, all the way up to those at the pre-competitive level, are learning to love the water via Northern Nevada’s premier children’s swim school.
“One of our big philosophies is all kids learn at their own pace,” said Tim Hall, co-owner of SBSS. “They all do these plateaus and then have big accelerations and then another plateau, but they’ll all get there. So we want to create a nurturing, fun environment where kids are learning at their own pace.
“We don’t market fear. We don’t go out telling people ‘You don’t want your kids to drown.’ Our deal is swimming is a great activity and it’s a life-long activity that they’re going to learn to love. That’s what we promote.”
Using different methods to both motivate and excite the kids enrolled at the swim school, Silver Bear has created the environment that it desired.
“We almost try to take the swimming aspect out of it in some respect. For example, we have themes all the time and our teachers will talk about pirates or something like that when the kids come out,” Hall said. “That just allows them to take a little bit of a step away from the water because now instead of putting our face in the water, we’re looking for treasure at the bottom of the pool. The kids really enjoy it, but at the same time we can talk about things we want them to do without directly talking about it.”
For Hall and his wife Katie, who also is a co-Owner and was captain of the 1996 University of California women’s swim team, ensuring that the youngsters enjoy their time in the water is key, as is building their confidence.
“We have progression charts which have been very successful. Learning at your own pace and the progression charts can seem at times like they fly in contrast to each other, but it’s very important to have that because of what swimming does for kids,” Hall said. “They are at a young age and they can make marked physical progress at an achievement that’s really hard for them initially.
“Making noted progress by seeing the charts, getting a ribbon and getting to ring a bell when they pass the next level, does tremendous things for their swimming because it gives them confidence and it does so outside the pool as well. It’s really the beginning of them realizing ‘I may be scared and it may be hard, but if I put some effort into it I’ll have success.’ It’s good for the kids to see their progress and that they’ve overcome some obstacles because it helps them blossom.”
As the kids develop and thrive, so does Silver Bear.
“The thing I look at is in talking to parents it’s all been positive feedback in terms of what we’re doing,” Hall said. “Part of our marketing, from my mind, is doing a good job with our customers. It’s important that you do a good job and have people talk positively about you. Our goal was to actually open this place with not that many people and just do a good job and slowly build up the numbers. We’re about where we hoped to be enrollment wise just through word of mouth. People are really happy and people love the facility. They like it being out here. Plus, most importantly, the kids are making progress.”