CARY — This summer’s rainy days haven’t put a damper on one new Cary swimming pool.
“We say the sun always shines at Aqua-Tots,” said Andrew George, who opened the indoor facility with his wife, Jen, last month.
Tucked in the corner of High House Crossing shopping center, Aqua-Tots offers swim lessons to children ages 6 months to 12 years.
Scattered around the pool deck and in the water are brightly colored floats and swim aids.
“When you’re 3 years old, swimming is often the first hard thing you’ve had to overcome in life,” Andrew George said. “For beginners, it’s important to pull them in and give them confidence. We recommend two to three lessons a week, close together. Consistency is their best friend.”
As young swimmers reach their goals, they are rewarded with ribbons. Graduating to the next level earns a certificate and a photo op with Ollie Otter.
The pool, heated to nearly 90 degrees, is roped off to accommodate several classes at once.
On the other side of a glass wall is a row of club chairs where parents can watch the lessons in air-conditioned comfort. A play area is available to occupy siblings.
“We want it to be a good experience for both the child and the parent,” Andrew George said.
Classes range from mommy-and-me groups to advanced swimmers. The most popular classes are those for 3-year-olds and a 4-and-up beginner’s class.
The center has a 4-to-1 child-to-instructor ratio, and all classes teach safety as well as skills.
The Georges’ love of swimming began early. Andrew grew up in Cary, where he swam for the Scottish Hills swim club and was on the Cary High School team.
Jen, who is from Richmond, Va., also swam competitively. Her parents own an Aqua-Tots in Richmond, where she worked for a time learning the ins and outs of the business.
The Cary franchise is the only Aqua-Tots in North Carolina; the Georges have plans to eventually open a second location in Raleigh.
“It is my goal to be a stay-at-home mom,” Jen said, cuddling their 8-month-old son, Dalton.
The couple began their business by renting lanes at area hotels and at a Raleigh fitness center. Andrew George said about 100 customers followed them to the Cary facility.
“The parents say this is so much better,” he said.
He estimates 500 children are currently enrolled in classes.
Swim instructors are trained on site by Jen George, with 35 hours of classroom and water instruction followed by testing. They then co-teach until before they lead their own class.
“We hire personality,” Andrew George said. “We know we can teach swimming. Kids learn better from a good personality.”