Highest quality – low cost – ideal learning environment

I have been asked many times how we keep our lesson costs relatively low compared to the local industry mean lesson cost. The answer is simple; lower overheads to run our current specialist learn to swim centers and over seven decades of experience. That experience not only relates to our unique Swim in Five learn to swim program but also to pool design lesson learnt the hard way that bigger is not necessarily better.

In 1980 I built the Toowoomba Aquatic Center, and indoor 25m x 16.6m x 1.2m deep indoor heated pool and found out that bigger is not better when it comes to; initial capital outlay, ongoing running costs and most importantly conducting swimming lesson. The maintenance cost curve for large indoor pools becomes a J curve as the pool and building age and hence puts pressure on the operator to raise the cost of the lesson in order to fund those costs.

The other lesson I learnt was in relation to supplying the highest quality swimming lessons to my clients and the speed in which the pupils learnt their skills. I found that in order to generate enough income to support the large indoor facility maintenance, staffing and running costs I had to crowd lots of classes into the pool. The pool was not a specialized teaching pool as our current swim schools are and as such we had to use platforms in the water in order to be able to teach swimming. The other problems apart from the very high costs to run and maintain were the noise, distractions in the pool area, a long journey for pupils who wish to use the toilet and a total loss of ambience.

Because of the hard learnt lessons I was able to create a business model that enabled Shapland Swim Schools to build specialized teaching pools at relative low costs (compared to a large indoor heated pool) out of materials that ensure the ongoing maintenance curve is almost flat and does not look like the letter J hence removing the pressure on Shapland’s to increase the cost of a lesson over and above the CPI. This unique business model allows Shapland’s to keep our lesson costs down yet supply the highest quality swimming lessons in semi private classes of three pupils with a maximum of two classes in the pool at any one time.

Ask yourself this question; “will my child learn faster in a facility built specifically for teaching swimming in a program that has been developed over seven decades or in a center that has been built to cater for not only swimming lessons but also squads and the general public where there are numerous classes in the pool at any one time in a very noisy environment where a trip to the toilet can be a mission.”

Running lots of classes in the pool at once requires that program to use stations. This means your child will be with a teacher who only teaches a certain skill and once your child has shown competency at that skill they will be moved to another teacher. Because of the semi private nature of the Shapland system it is possible for the your child to remain with the one teacher from when they are three months old to when they are ready to join a swimming squad. What would you prefer teacher continuity or a change of teacher every time your child completes a skill level.

If you are thinking about enrolling your child in swimming lessons I urge you to visit a Shapland Swim School first and watch the lessons before you go anywhere else. You will see what I mean in terms of noise, overcrowding and convenience of toilet facilities. Please make sure you visit during the peak lesson time between 9am and 11am and 3pm to 7pm so you can get to compare semi private lessons with what may appear to be a cattle dip. You have to realize that your child has the potential to learn their skills much faster in a semi private Shapland lesson at a lower cost.

Chris Shapland.