Birmingham-based Goldfish Swim School Franchising named one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch

Goldfish Swim School Franchising LLC, which has grown into a multistate franchise network since it was founded in 2006 with a single location in Birmingham, has been named one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch.
The prestigious annual list, sponsored by Michigan Celebrates Small Business, honors growth-oriented, Michigan-based businesses that demonstrate high performance in the marketplace or exhibit innovative products or processes.
“We believe this recognition is further validation that the Goldfish Swim School network is built on a solid foundation and is well-positioned for continued expansion,” said company CEO Chris McCuiston, who with his wife, Jenny, founded Goldfish Swim School 10 years ago this month at 2388 Cole St., Suite 101, in Birmingham.
Goldfish Swim School, Michigan’s first aquatic facility dedicated entirely to indoor swim classes, provides water safety education and swim lessons to children ages 4 months through 12 years. Its confidence-building curriculum was developed by Jenny McCuiston, a state championship swimmer at Birmingham Seaholm High School and 17-time Collegiate All-American at the University of Arizona, where she earned her degree in early childhood development & family studies. 
When exploring how to expand the concept beyond the Birmingham location, the McCuistons opted to create a franchising program that resulted in the first franchise location opening in 2009 in Farmington Hills.
Today, more than 55 schools are open or in development in more than 17 states, including nine in Michigan. The McCuistons still own the school in Birmingham, where they also maintain Goldfish Swim School Franchising’s nearby corporate headquarters.
Their future expansion plans include the goal of increasing their franchise network to 130 locations by 2024.
It’s that growth that was recognized by the judges who selected Goldfish as one of the Michigan 50 Companies to Watch. The competition is open to what are known as “second stage” companies that are past the startup phase and facing issues of growth, not survival. They must also demonstrate the intent and capacity to grow based on employee or sales growth, exceptional entrepreneurial leadership, sustainable competitive advantage or other notable successes.
“We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished during our first 10 years in business, and we look forward to further spreading our Michigan-made learn-to-swim program throughout the country,” Chris McCuiston said. “Much of the credit for our success to date goes to our members – families who understand the various ways swimming lessons benefit their children – and our dedicated and passionate franchisees.” 
Each franchise has a significant economic impact in its community. Development costs $1.4 to $3 million per location, on average, and each school employs approximately 50 workers.
“We also sincerely believe that we’re making a difference in the lives of the more than 40,000 students we teach each week who are learning to swim and be safer in and around the water,” McCuiston said. “Children at Goldfish are learning safety skills that will stay with them forever.”
Classes are taught by professional, trained and certified instructors in a safe, kid-friendly setting.
Colorful murals and faux palm trees create a tropical decor in each location. Goldfish pools, which are custom-built for teaching, are 4½ feet deep at their deepest. To create a shiver-free environment, water temperatures are kept at a comfortable 90 degrees while the ambient air in the pool area is always 92 degrees. Parents can observe lessons from an air-conditioned viewing area.
The concept was designed to eliminate the anxiety and chill that often accompany traditional swimming lessons by providing a warm-water pool, small class sizes (maximum 4:1 student-to-teacher ratio) and a focus on perpetual learning that allows children to progress naturally.
Safety is also a constant theme. In addition to focusing on water safety skills in each swim lesson, Goldfish staff members regularly visit schools to give water safety presentations to students in their community.
Michigan Celebrates Small Business consists of organizations that support and celebrate entrepreneurs in Michigan: Chris Holman, small business advocate; the Edward Lowe Foundation; Michigan Economic Development Corporation; the Michigan Small Business Development Center; the Small Business Association of Michigan; and the U.S. Small Business Administration – Michigan.
More information about Goldfish Swim School is available at