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Credentials

Prior to the successful sale in 2018, Aquatic Achievers taught over 450,000 premium lessons per year (9000/week). The company trained thousands of expert teachers while also designing and building 7 indoor heated teaching pools. Uswim has been delivering online content to teachers since 2007 when the highly effective program was adapted into a simplified online learning platform.

Paddington – Queensland’s largest swim school, built by the Douglas family

Paddington – Queensland’s largest swim school, built by the Douglas family

Founder

Uswim is operated by a small team led by it’s founder – Ben, who first taught ‘special needs’ swimming in San Francisco. He later spent 11 years at Aquatic Achievers as a Teacher, Manager and finally 6 years as CEO.

Selling Aquatic Achievers in 2018 allowed Ben to pursue his dream of bringing proven methods to communities and cultures around the world. He is now based in Danang, Vietnam.

Purpose

Teachers have the power to transform lives. We want to help people throughout the world who don’t have access to a quality swimming program. By creating better teachers ranging from ‘do it yourself’ parents to swim school owners, more kids will experience this beautiful Journey.

Our Philosophy on Teaching

Masterful teachers inspire intrinsic motivation within their students, which is the opposite of threatening, forcing or shaming.
Students need clear boundaries! Highly effective teachers make sure swimmers understand why the rules exist, and respond consistently to ensure they are adhered to.
Great teachers provide an encouraging and caring environment where students feel safe challenging themselves to step outside their comfort zone (Daniel Coyle calls this the ‘sweet spot’)

Steps which led to Uswim today

Teaching swimming in Rockhampton
1968

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.

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.

Innovation at the Woodridge Pool
1991

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.

Pool building
1993

Pool building

Neil built 3 pools in 2 years at the council facility in the south of Brisbane, perfecting details such as pool depth, temperature control and even tile colour.This experience would prove valuable in later years when Aquatic Achievers would build it’s own private indoor facilities across Brisbane.

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.

Aquatic Achievers is born
1994

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.

The Solo-1 program
1998

The Solo-1 program

It was during this period that the program was named Solo-1, indicating the goal of the program which was for every child to swim 1km continuous Freestyle. The effectiveness was apparent with children as young as 4 completing the 1km swim in later years.

Swim School in a carpark

The pool at Sunnybank was designed and built on the bottom level carpark of a major shopping centre. The facility proved that with a bit of imagination a swim school could be built in unexpected places.

Swim School in a carpark
2001

Swim School in a carpark

The pool at Sunnybank was designed and built on the bottom level carpark of a major shopping centre. The facility proved that with a bit of imagination a swim school could be built in unexpected places.

Teaching in San Francisco
2004

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. Here he received his first chance of creating a curriculum ‘because they didn’t have one’.

Learning systems

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

Learning systems
2006

Learning systems

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

The creation of Uswim
2007

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’.

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.

A redesigned program
2009

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.

Uswim used in over 80 countries
2010

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.

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.

The World Drowning Conference
2011

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.

SOS children’s Orphanage
2011

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. 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.

Transition of Leadership

The year also saw the decision making responsibilities for the company pass from Neil and Brenda their son Ben as CEO. 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 he was prepared for, allowing little time for Uswim.

Transition of Leadership
2011

Transition of Leadership

The year also saw the decision making responsibilities for the company pass from Neil and Brenda their son Ben as CEO. 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 he was prepared for, allowing little time for Uswim.

‘Train the Trainer’ in Mauritius
2012

‘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.

Growth and Restructuring

Big changes took place in these years including building Queensland’s largest Swim School (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.

Growth and Restructuring
2013

Growth and Restructuring

Big changes took place in these years including building Queensland’s largest Swim School (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.

Systemizing Customer experience
2014

Systemizing Customer experience

Customer experience is more than simply the quality of swim lessons. Booking processes, scheduling and teacher selection are among many things that add up to a great service. During this period the company began testing customer satisfaction using the NPS (net promoter score) in order to measure success.

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.

China, Indonesia and Vietnam
2016

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.

Sale of Aquatic Achievers
2017

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 the new owners detailed a bold vision for the future of the company.

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