Big Blue Swim School, one of the nation’s fastest-growing swim school franchises, is coming to Colorado thanks to Denver-based entrepreneurs Wendy and Erik Skaalerud. The pair recently signed a lease for their first pool, which will be located at the intersection of Himalaya and Smokey Hill Road in Centennial, Colorado.
As initial investors and franchisees of Orangetheory Fitness, Erik and Wendy grew their Denver footprint for Orangetheory to 30 locations before selling. The couple also started their own finance company 15 years ago—Capital Lending—to help small business owners get off the ground financially. When the two learned about Big Blue Swim School while looking for their next franchising endeavor, they were attracted to the high-quality investment opportunity and the best-in-class consumer offering.
“Big Blue offers a recession-resistant model with solid lasting power in the market, but most importantly, it’s a mission-driven business that helps prevent drowning by teaching a necessary and critical life skill,” said Erik Skaalerud. “We are excited to create a whole culture of quality swimmers and open the door to a new level of swim instruction in Colorado.”
The Skaaleruds signed a five-unit deal in March of 2019, becoming Big Blue’s first franchise partner. As they prepare to open the Centennial Big Blue Swim School, they will continue scouting real estate for four additional Big Blue pools in the surrounding areas.
“As we grow with Big Blue Swim School, we look forward to building an incredible community of families who value confidence, water safety and fun,” said Wendy Skaalerud. “Erik and I made a life commitment to align with people of integrity, kindness, grace and authenticity and the team at Big Blue fits the bill completely.”
Since opening in 2009, Big Blue has worked to change the way swim lessons are taught. “Everything we do is focused on showing kids they can do anything through the magic of weekly swim lessons,” said Chris DeJong, Founder of President of Big Blue Swim School. This mission drives every operation at Big Blue and we think Erik and Wendy will deliver that mission with passion and enthusiasm.”
With an aggressive growth plan in place, Big Blue has already signed 55 units across the country. With a goal of reaching 150 units by 2021, the brand is uniquely positioned to be the leader in the $3 billion learn-to-swim industry. “The Big Blue brand offers fitness franchise partners strong differentiators like a superior curriculum focused on distance-based learning, an innovative proprietary enterprise system, a data-driven real estate strategy and top-tier franchisor support,” said Big Blue’s Chief Development Officer, Scott Thompson. “Beyond that, Big Blue has the experience and data-driven approach needed to scale quickly.”
“We are very excited about Erik and Wendy’s first Big Blue Swim School opening in Centennial,” said Thompson. “Their franchise and business experience will help set them up to be strong and successful franchise partners in Colorado. Their passion for mission-driven work means they will deliver on the Big Blue mission to inspire big moments for kids in the communities they serve.”