About Uswim

  • The Uswim program was adapted from one of the world’s most innovative and successful Swim Schools – Aquatic Achievers – founded by Neil Douglas, who began teaching swimming 43 years ago.
  • In 2017 the company operated 5 private indoor heated pools, teaching over 9000 children per week.
  • 2007 saw Ben Douglas and colleagues at Aquatic Achievers begin making online video tutorials for parents to teach their own children.
  • The site and program has been continually improved over this period through testing, feedback and focus groups, resulting in a highly unique step-by-step approach to teaching swimming which can be learned by anyone.
  • The specific ‘swimming’ goal of the program is for all students to swim 20 meters Freestyle (Front Crawl in some countries) with correct and efficient breathing technique.

About the Founder

Uswim is operated by its founder – Ben Douglas, who;

  • Was born in Rockhampton, Australia.
  • Studied History in Missouri and Hawaii, and first taught swimming to special needs adults at the Janet Pomeroy center in San Francisco.
  • Returned to Australia in 2006 and founded Uswim the following year.
  • Became the manager of the Gumdale pool in 2008 and the CEO of Aquatic Achievers in 2011.
  • Resigned in 2017 after an enjoyable 12–month transition to a new General Manager.

In 2018 Ben’s family successfully sold Aquatic Achievers to a reputable private equity firm. He decided to focus on creating a financially sustainable resource which can reach people and cultures around the world who don’t have access to a quality swim program.

Ben is based in Da Nang (Vietnam) and Brisbane (Australia).

Some events in Uswim’s History

1968
Teaching swimming in Rockhampton

Teaching swimming in Rockhampton

It was as a school teacher in when Neil Douglas began coaching swimming. To his parents disgust, he would eventually leave the ‘security’ of school teaching to coach

1991
Innovation at the Woodridge Pool

Innovation at the Woodridge Pool

After an Entrepreneurial roller-coaster in the 80’s, Neil came back to swimming with a fresh outlook and a desire to create a truly innovative learn to swim system – focused on teaching skills to all children as quickly as possible.

1994
Aquatic Achievers is born

Aquatic Achievers is born

With the success of Woodridge, Neil and his wife took on the lease of Chandler – The state’s largest swimming facility. A focus of program effectiveness and customer service saw the Swim School grow to be Brisbane’s largest.

2004
Teaching in San Francisco

Teaching in San Francisco

After finishing a degree in the US on a sporting scholarship, Ben (Neil’s son) remained in San Francisco where he taught special needs swimming at the Janet Pomeroy Center receiving his first chance of creating a curriculum ‘because they didn’t have one’.

2006
Learning systems

Learning systems

Returning home to Australia, Ben began teaching full time within the program his father had developed. It was during this time where he would learn to think critically about curriculum design and the elements that make up a quality program.

2007
The creation of Uswim

The creation of Uswim

In 2007 the task of building Uswim began. What seemed like a simple project turned into a behemoth. However the process of creating a program for parents, even though frustrating at times, delivered invaluable experience in program design for ‘training the trainers’.

2009
A redesigned program

A redesigned program

The first version of Uswim had big flaws. Most feedback simply said – ‘its too complicated’. This was backed up when focus groups of real mothers were tested in live situations and confirmed that the program had to be simplified. The idea of only teaching 1 skill at a time was a turning point.

2010
Uswim used in over 80 countries

Uswim used in over 80 countries

The launch of the 2nd website was a huge step forward as the feedback from users was very positive. The reach of the program became apparent as messages came consistently from unexpected places like Brazil, India, Uganda and Nepal – which was hugely exciting.

2011
The World Drowning Conference

The World Drowning Conference

The first ever world drowning conference was held in Danang, Vietnam, which loses roughly 11,000 children each year, 31 lives every day to drowning. Uswim was one of the representatives to speak about the different methods that may prevent drownings.

2011
SOS children’s Orphanage

SOS children’s Orphanage

Project Dovetail offered Uswim the chance to teach at the SOS orphanage in Mauritius. Many tragic stories involve kids who lose their parents – contrasting with the island’s idyllic image. Ben taught for 10 days – developing a deep affection for the 98 children and ‘house mothers’ who call the SOS village home.

2011
Transition at Aquatic Achievers

Transition at Aquatic Achievers

The year also saw the decision making responsibilities for the company pass from Neil and Brenda their son Ben. As Ben admits, this was a very difficult period for him as the responsibility of managing over 180 employees in a growing company is not something you can prepare for, allowing little time for Uswim.

2012
‘Train the Trainer’ in Mauritius

‘Train the Trainer’ in Mauritius

The follow up trip by Ben to Mauritius was very rewarding, as the basic skill progressions taught the previous year were taking effect. The emphasis on this trip was to make sure the House Mother – Josset – took the lead in understanding the program to be followed after Ben had left.

2013 - 16
Growth, restructuring and systemization

Growth, restructuring and systemization

Big changes took place in these years including building Queensland’s largest Swim School from scratch (Aquatic Achievers Paddington), and implementing new systems and management structures to bring consistency across the 6 facilities . The swim program was also constantly improved e.g. a greater emphasis on relaxation and breath control.

2016
China, Indonesia and Vietnam

China, Indonesia and Vietnam

2016 was turning point for the swim schools and for Uswim. With the hiring of a General Manager for added leadership and assist in corporate structuring, opportunities overseas could once again be investigated. This included ben being invited to China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

2017
Sale of Aquatic Achievers

Sale of Aquatic Achievers

With Ben and his sister Kerri stepping aside to pursue of other projects and a strong management team in place – Neil and Brenda decided the time was right in 2017 to sell the business. The family was very happy when they found new owners who shared their values and had a bold vision for the future of the company.

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