What's New: Carmel strip mall swim school

April 4, 2013
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The signs are up and construction has kicked into overdrive as Goldfish Swim School races to open its first Indiana location at Merchants Square in Carmel.

Founded in Michigan, Goldfish specializes in teaching children to swim. A custom 4-foot-deep pool (kept at a comfortable 90 degrees) occupies most of the 8,000-square-foot facility, which also includes a dozen cabana-like private changing rooms, a snack bar, a pro shop and a blow-dry bar for post-lesson coiffing. Startup costs were about $1 million.

Classes are expected to begin April 16.

Goldfish uses a membership-based model, charging a monthly fee for what it calls “perpetual swim lessons.” Franchise co-owner Katie Lee says that approach allows children to learn at their own pace.

“They move through the classes as their skills improve,” said Lee, who also operates locations in suburban Detroit.

Children attend 30-minute lessons weekly, and parents are encouraged to take advantage of so-called “Family Swims” to promote practice. Free hour-long family sessions are scheduled Mondays-Thursdays, and a 90-minute Friday evening session will cost $5 per person or $15 for the whole family.

Goldfish Swim SchoolGoldfish Swim School plans to open in Carmel's Merchants Square on April 16. (Photo courtesy of Goldfish Swim School)

Advanced students can participate in a recreational swim team designed to introduce them to competitive swimming.

“Swimming is a great equalizer,” said General Manager Tom Anderson, a Carmel resident (and father of twin 2-year-old girls) who will oversee daily operations. “You don’t have to be tall or muscular—everyone can learn how to float.”

Memberships start at $78 per month for one child, with discounts for additional family members. The facility, located in a Merchants Square outlot west of a Marsh grocery store, can accommodate as many as 2,000 students a week, Lee said. She hopes to reach capacity within two years.

Goldfish will open with a staff of 20, she said. Established schools have about 50 employees, who go through at least 40 hours of training before diving into lessons.

Lee said demographics steered the franchise owners to Carmel for Goldfish's 10th location. The site between Zionsville and FIshers should be convenient for more than 20,000 children 12 and younger who need swim lessons, she said.

IBJ reported in 2011 that more than 145,000 people live within a five-mile radius of Merchants Square, and the average household income is more than $112,000. Even so, the retail center has struggled to keep tenants.
 
The idea of a dedicated swim school has proven successful elsewhere, Lee said, and she’s confident that it will catch on here, too.

What do you think about the concept?

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  • What?!
    $78/mo per child?! Are they crazy? Swim classes are usually $20/mo around Carmel. That pricing is nuts.
    • Expensive?
      I echo the previous comment about the pricing. $78/month per child for weekly lessons comes out to almost $20 per lesson. It's $72.50/month for a second child. I see on the website there's also an annual $25 registration fee on top of that. I really like the concept and the facility looks top-notch from the photos I've seen. It's definitely something I'm considering for my children.
    • Pricing
      Ryan - Where around Carmel are swim lessons offered for $20/month? Stony Creek Swim Center doesn't appear to be a whole lot cheaper than Goldfish.
    • Needed
      It will be filled in no time. From what I remember Stony Creek was a very similar price and not appealing. Two or three changing "booths" and no where to sit.

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    1. If I were a developer I would be looking at the Fountain Square and Fletcher Place neighborhoods instead of Broad Ripple. I would avoid the dysfunctional BRVA with all of their headaches. It's like deciding between a Blackberry or an iPhone 5s smartphone. BR is greatly in need of updates. It has become stale and outdated. Whereas Fountain Square, Fletcher Place and Mass Ave have become the "new" Broad Ripples. Every time I see people on the strip in BR on the weekend I want to ask them, "How is it you are not familiar with Fountain Square or Mass Ave? You have choices and you choose BR?" Long vacant storefronts like the old Scholar's Inn Bake House and ZA, both on prominent corners, hurt the village's image. Many business on the strip could use updated facades. Cigarette butt covered sidewalks and graffiti covered walls don't help either. The whole strip just looks like it needs to be power washed. I know there is more to the BRV than the 700-1100 blocks of Broad Ripple Ave, but that is what people see when they think of BR. It will always be a nice place live, but is quickly becoming a not-so-nice place to visit.

    2. I sure hope so and would gladly join a law suit against them. They flat out rob people and their little punk scam artist telephone losers actually enjoy it. I would love to run into one of them some day!!

    3. Biggest scam ever!! Took 307 out of my bank ac count. Never received a single call! They prey on new small business and flat out rob them! Do not sign up with these thieves. I filed a complaint with the ftc. I suggest doing the same ic they robbed you too.

    4. Woohoo! We're #200!!! Absolutely disgusting. Bring on the congestion. Indianapolis NEEDS it.

    5. So Westfield invested about $30M in developing Grand Park and attendance to date is good enough that local hotel can't meet the demand. Carmel invested $180M in the Palladium - which generates zero hotel demand for its casino acts. Which Mayor made the better decision?

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