Olympic medallist Michael Jamieson makes another big splash as he plans to launch three new Swim Academies in Edinburgh this Autumn
Olympic medallist turned entrepreneur Michael Jamieson is diving into a new pool of business opportunity by opening three new Edinburgh venues for his hugely over-subscribed Swimming Academies.
The Edinburgh initiative will launch on Saturday, 18 September, and each succeeding Saturday, at the University of Edinburgh pool in The Pleasance, which will accommodate 200 learners, and will be followed on 4 October by classes at the Novotel Hermiston Gate pool for adult and baby, under 3-year-olds. Shortly afterwards the Academy will launch classes at Oriam, Heriot Watt University, a 4 days a week offering in a world class sports facility.
The expansion from his successful West of Scotland operation puts the Michael Jamieson Swimming Academy (MJSA) back into the fast lane after it was hit, like all other people-facing businesses, by the last 18 months of Covid restrictions.
The Academy’s classes at the Glasgow University and Radio Clyde pools are now operating again with 400 and 300 learners respectively, and Hamilton College pool, with capacity for 600 learners, will re-open on Monday, 27th September.
Further expansion in the west will come with the opening of the Argyle Hotel pool in Glasgow for 150 learners on Friday, 1 October.
Michael, 33, who won silver at the 2012 London Olympics, said: “we have a team of over 20 teachers operating in Glasgow and Edinburgh and will be adding to this in the coming months to ensure an efficient transition to our offerings in Edinburgh.
“Pre-Covid we had 800 kids swimming weekly. We are looking to support around 1500 by the turn of the year with the addition of the new facilities. We are also rolling out an educational curriculum alongside our swim programme to support the early development of positive self-talk and early elements of emotional intelligence.
“We have had support from mental health professionals and psychologists to develop this content and it is something I believe will set us apart in the sector.”
The energetic Glaswegian has distinguished his Academy by using private and hotel pools rather than local authority facilities.
He said: “We are able to create a healthy working relationship with private facilities and share in the passion of offering value to the community. We have targeted these venues specifically to offer the best product, with the best partnership teams in the area.
“I have a fantastic relationship with the team at the University of Edinburgh and have many happy memories there. We are excited to partner with them to offer a rewarding learn-to- swim journey now and in the future.”
On the series of drowning deaths across the UK during the recent spells of warm weather, Michael believes this has emphasised to many parents just how important it is to teach children to swim from the earliest possible age.
“There have been too many tragic stories recently in Scotland. Too many kids are leaving school without basic water safety skills. Without significant investment and support, we will continue, sadly, to see the disparity in the numbers of kids unable to swim by the time they leave school.
“Swimming pools are notoriously expensive to maintain but we must find creative strategies to offer a life skill in our communities in a financially sustainable manner.”
After consolidating his Edinburgh Swim Academy initiatives, Michael plans to expand further into a wider range of fitness and healthcare businesses.
“Our immediate plans are to protect and consolidate this exciting growth phase we are in currently. We are actively looking for further venue partners in Glasgow and Edinburgh to keep up with the increasing post pandemic demand for kids’ sport.
“It’s great to see such an appetite for swimming and we are committed to spreading our valued product around Scotland. Our smaller class ratios enable us to ensure our kids have a rewarding experience, building a strong rapport with our Level 2 qualified teachers.
“We maintain a high level of in-house competency training and only employ Level 2 qualified teachers to ensure we are providing the best product in the market. The majority of our teachers are qualified in Mental Health First Aid & this is something we are passionate about continuing.
“It’s an exciting year for us and I am proud of the team we have put in place. Creating sustainable growth is the challenge, but we have the core team and support team behind us to do so.”