Little Fishes Swim School used to be just that: little. With one above-ground pool located in aBrentwood industrial area, the school provided swimming lessons for 600 kids per week. In January 2013, the swim school is moving to a larger facility in Brentwood, featuring three indoor, in-ground pools and the capacity to serve 1,800 young swimmers. As construction crews wrapped up their work on the 11,000-square-foot school in late December, St. Louis Sprout got a sneak peek.
"We are just super excited; it's just crazy," said Ruthie Zarren, owner of Little Fishes Swim School. Covered in paint and watching her second pool fill up with water, Zarren was reflecting on how quickly the swim school had grown in five years.
"In January 2008, we were open two days a week. It was me and one other person," she said. "We had 46 kids at the end of the first session." Now as she stands on the concrete pool deck she can visualize three pools where next month her instructors will be offering concurrent lessons to swimmers of various abilities.
The building, which Zarren purchased for $750,000, can accommodate 1,800 students; that's three times the number served in the old building.
Two small pools, each 15 feet by 20 feet, will be used for the youngest swimmers and those students who are just getting acclimated to the water, Zarren explained. Stairs run the length of one end of the pool, and an "island" or ledge is located at the other end so young students can stand submerged in the water to practice strokes or wait for their turn to swim. Swimmers "graduate" up the larger pool, which is 15 feet by 40 feet, to work on strokes, distance and swim team preparation — instruction that Little Fishes couldn't provide at their previous location due to space constraints, Zarren said. Both pools are 3.5 feet deep.
Each pool will be kept at 93 degrees and will feature hygienic saltwater and an ultra-violet water treatment system. Fences completely enclose the pools to control access. The facility is stroller and wheelchair accessible, and instructors can customize programs for students with special needs.
There are eight private bathrooms, and four private shower and changing rooms. The facility will also have a vending area, children's play area and seating area. Little Fishes Swim School will be able to accomodate more birthday parties in the larger facility, Zarren said.
To celebrate the grand opening of the new Little Fishes Swim School, Zarren has planned an Olympic Opening Ceremony from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29. The free event at the new facility (155 Hanley Industrial Court, Brentwood, Mo., 63144) features demonstration lessons, crafts, giveaways every half-hour, snacks, car seat safety checks by the Brentwood Police Department, and other activities. The Speedway Eatery food truck will be selling food in the parking lot.
For more information on Little Fishes Swim School, visit their website or call 314-647-7946.