Blog

January 2010 the court date is postponed again. That was a big surprise to our lawyers as it's not practice to be able to postpone twice. Disappointment. We would have prefered to have it over and done with. New court date is set to be in October. So we take a deep breath and try to direct focus on daily life.

I turn 40 – Party time! I haven’t celebrated my birthday with a party since I turned 20. It's amazing to have family and friends gathered arround me. We had a fabulous evening full of music. Thank you to all of you who where there. You made that day into a happy and sparkling memory.

I got elected to be the President of the Swedish Baby Swimming Federation. Thank you for the trust. For me it was an honor to serve and I am amazed by the commitment and hard work you all do to help and support members so that we together work towards giving Swedish families the best possible experience when swimming with their young ones.

After the experience with the raise and fall of the Stockholm project we change our strategy. We will not grow more. We are happy with the two facilities we have. KeepTrack is also growing so I'll focus more on Swimmix and Johan on KeepTrack. We move the Shared Service Center to our swim facility in Limhamn.

I love being arround our swimming families and staff. I also throw myself into leading water aerobic groups again. The week before Valentines day I told them we would have a love theme the up coming week. They all came with red lipstick, something red and a special glow in their eyes (see picture). A very warm thank you to these springy ladies and gentlemen - time with you was special we had great fun together while exercising. 
In our Swedish swim school we have stepped up in a speed I didn't expect and the effect is clear. Staff is happier and thrive. Customer satisfaction is higher than ever, more than 90% stay every term and we also get applications from interesting people. That is always a good indication of a healthy culture. I am happy and so very proud of the people forming the Swimmix staff and what they do. Thank you for all the years of hard work and happy times. You all have a special place in my mind and heart.

My health troubles me. I stop driving because I sometimes loose my peripheral vision and sometimes I experience a lightning pain in my head. I still get confused and I still experience not remembering things. It might not be Alzheimers; maybe a brain tumor. Maybe both. I was joking about it even if I knew I shouldn't. I am only 40 years old and eat and drink very healthy. I also often have heartache with a numbing feeling in my left arm. I go to the doctors office and as always I am never as healthy as I am when I am there. They take it seriously, do a brain and heart scan but find nothing. I am very low on B vitamins nothing else. Is it all in my imagination? I feel a little embarrassed and at the same time happy that I am as healthy and strong as a young athlete.

October comes up and so does the trial. This is still painful so I'll make this long story short. We have a strong case and proof of 9 degrees in the showers and temperature under the contracted in the pool among other things (our opponent is by now involved in no less than 12 different lawsuits and most of them are going to court). But we loose! I can't believe it! Our Lawyers can't believe it. An independent judge can't believe it. What happened? No one knows but several legal rules were violated by the retiring judge. We have gone through those days so many times and we still don't understand. One thing is crystal clear, our legal system is not better than the people who works within it. I thought more of them, I had trust and faith in them. I am so astonished and deeply disappointed. I am more cynical today. 
Good and bad things often come in threes. So after these shocking news two more arrive: We will appeal but we have to deposit 2,5 millions! Money we do not have at this point after Stockholm and the 1½ years with expensive lawyer bills – Furthermore we are looking at a minimum of an additional 2½ years before the appeal will actually be done. But then the last blow comes: The owner of our Limhamn facility will not extend our lease! We had a 10 year lease and it was time to renegotiate it. But they have other plans for the whole building. All contracts and leases are terminated. We all have a year. But due to the situation we are in we go down. Ship is sinking! The last of November we file for bankruptcy in Sweden. Monday we call in staff and they get the information. Chock and sadness! I write a letter and send it to all our swim families. Television comes. The paper comes. It's a crazy day. 
And then all is silent. So silent.

We lost so much. I get letters, mails, pictures, and messages from many of those who have been part of Swimmix Sweden. Thank you for your love and concern. I still miss you and the time we had. I always smile when I think of you all and our time together – many great memories.

The rights for Swimmix and our facility in Denmark is still ours and most importantly, we didn't loose ourselves. Furthermore we are so much on top of the bankruptcy that we manage to limit loss for our swim families to an absolute minimum (about two swim lessons), all the good guys get paid and our opponent in Stockholm gets nothing (actually he gets about 0,05% of his claim just to emphasize that everybody loose in court). Thank you to our lawyers from Vinge in Malmö, Emma Olsson, Lina Bergqvist and Christer Azelius. We know how hard you worked and also that you put your whole heart into our case. We will always feel a deep appreciation for that.

I cant' believe it! Johan is of a different character and he has always operated under “Better safe than sorry” (where he is trained you can end up dying if you don't). So he hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. He had everything lined up 'just in case' – Engineers for documenting, trucks for moving, lawyers on call for advice, documents for laying off staff. When returning to the facility in Stockholm in january what we hoped for was that they had fixed at least temperature, ventilation and the circumstances around handling chemicals so it could live up to regulations and standards. What they basically had done was sweep the floors! Water temperature in the showers was 9 degrees Centigrade and the pool water was also way below par. Enough! We do not work under the same standards or have the same understanding of quality or respect. Swimmix Stockholm will close. Johan made the calls to people who was on hold. Movers roll in with a big truck and together with our staff they pack up all our inventories. Within hours we are out and the truck drives south and - sadly – the splendid Stockholm team is laid off.

I suffer and feel like a big disappointment to all who have believed in us. The voice of criticism runs on repeat in my head. “You should have... If only you... Why didn't you...???” What keeps me from not beating my self up totally is honest, kind “big” people I have arround me. This is people whom I respect and who have the grace of never judging or condemning me nor my actions. They are the ones whom I always feel safe arround, they know me and they become even more important when I experience harsh times. Thank you! Actually thank you to all of you who are big at heart and mind – you are true mental life saviors.

After having two facility managers in a short period of time and turmoil within staff in Limhamn (Sweden) I choose to step in as facility manager. There was still a team of very dedicated teachers left and they needed attention and some new colleagues that could match their personality and abilities. 
I also choose to teach more than I have had time to do for a couple of years. Looking back I understand how important that was for me. 
In 2009 we change our teaching slightly again. We start focusing on the same adventure for 3-5 weeks. We devide the year within periods where we work with different themes. We have always tought with fantasy and with a good story to build arround the lessons but now we make colorful drawings of the lessons and we all work within the same theme and that has a tremendous positive impact because again, when we do it together it becomes better and the outcome becomes more. The year starts out with a tour arround the world. Among other themes we have magic, halloween, jungle and space theme. Kids love it! Parents love it too and so do we – it's fun to play! And what we learn is that our children are learning about other things too while swimming. So swimming is not just swimming it's also learning about the world and planets! School is in the pool! And I think - we can do more.

I have been speaking at several occasions both nationally and internationally and in october 2010 the WABC conference is in Vancouver. This time Noa and I did a joint performance presenting 'Dynamic Baby Swimming' where I focus and present on the parents and parental views and Noa focuses on the children and building self esteem. It was enriching to work together and we also had great fun presenting. I really wish we can do more of that in the future – we are good together! 
Thank you Sharron Crawley and your team for a great event. Thank you to all attendees. I will always remember Vancouver as one of the best places on Earth thanks to that event. It was a couple of amazing days. 
I'll share one more thing... from our presentation. When I had done my part of the presentation I realized that I had lost track of time. When Noa went on I felt panic inside – I had talked for more than an hour and only left 10 minutes for Noa!!! Organizers had informed us that going beyond time was not acceptable and that they would stop us when time was up. 
I rushed down to Sharron Crawley (organizer) who sat comfortably listening to Noa. I didn't think I could make my concern clear. Probably I was just blabbering and making no sence, just annoying Sharron. She said: “No problem.” And I thought “Oh Yes! Big Problem! How am I going to make this up to Noa??” 
Well it was me who was totally wrong on time! I had kept my time frame perfectly – I got confused and freaked out (inside... I was cool on the outside) maybe due to jetlag? Of course - absolutely jetlag! 
Besides confusing myself I managed to confuse Noa by disappearing while she was on stage. But she handled it very professionally. 
It was at this point I started to forget things and get confused at times. I had never experienced anything like it before. I laughed and called my self Doris (you know - Nemo's confused friend) but I was also concerned. My mind was playing me tricks and I felt uneasy. I wondered if it was Alzheimers. I knew something was not right. 
Thank you to all organizers who have showed me the trust and giving me the opportunity to speak at your events. Sharing is daring when it is something that is important to you so a very dear and warm thank you to all who have showed interest and patience when listening.

The owner of the building in Stockholm said he'd sue us. And he was welcome to do so. Our lawyers said that it would be best if he did but if he didn't we would. The experience in Stockholm had cost us plenty in both investments and personal resources although the latter doesn't count in these cases. So pretty much all of 2009 Johan is, apart from Keep Track, occupied with legal processes and meetings with lawyers and gathering all documents and witnesses. Here is where we really appreciate that we have everything documented, filed and stored in one place and with back-up. 
Court date is set to be in November. Our opponent manages to postpone it so we will start 2010 by going to court.

After a long and rather interesting negotiation we land the contract of a new facility. We were very close to turning it down and walk away. “The one that wags the tail the most often becomes the looser.” We were very interested but not at whatever cost or deal. We knew what we wanted and had no intension of slacking on quality or getting into poor agreements. Thank you to Johan who tirelessly read the small parts in the contract again and again and again. Thank you also for your skills in finance and quick working mind when it comes to figures. That has saved us many times, you often amaze me and I must confess that it's amusing to sit back and enjoy how cool you are when it comes to math and agreements.

The construction starts on rebuilding an old leisure pool within an old big company building. Stockholm is special to me as it is my birth town, it's here I went to school and swam during my youth. And we are opening a Swimmix facility here – I am nothing but thrilled and again it's hard to understand that it is true!

We find and hire the Swimmix Stockholm staff. They come down to Malmoe for practical training and back in stockholm days of theory. PR rolls out, flyers are distributed, big signs are up and customers start signing up. The plan is to open in August but it's not ready... no surprize. We open during September and I fly back and forth to Stockholm every week to help and support our teachers in the water with teaching the Swimmix way. Thank you to the entire team in Stockholm for the time, interest and commitment. 

We also hire a young woman who just moved from Stockholm to our office in Malmoe to handle bookings for the Stockholm facility. This woman personalizes the word charming and after the job interview she said, if you hire me I'll bake the best chocolate cake for you. She got the job! And her chocolate cake was awesome. 
That was Tina Ahl Sten and she completed our outstanding administration team with Anki Lawrence who took care of Limhamn, Kinn Hjelmblink who took and still takes care of Denmark and Tina Folkeson who took care of finance. Thank you for being you, thank you for your time and dedication and for making life easier for us all. Thank you for interesting discussions, development and the good times we had together.

Teacher training has always been something very important for us to invest in. We have always had several annual events for our staff members with plenty of opportunities for learning and developing. Every year we start season off refreshing our first aid skills with Ib Olsen, an ambulance rescuer and an outstanding and entertaining educator. We also have a yearly Kick-Off in August that Dave DuBois has been a very appreciated and often returning educator, inspirational speaker and motivator. 2008 is, so far, the last year we have the pleasure of having him with us. Other elements have been voice coaches, performers, psychologists, pediatrics and many others. Thank you for coming and sharing and lifting our spirits and team. Thank you to staff, previous and present, who always attend with great interest and participation.

Sometimes friends from near and far comes to visit. It's always nice. I'm not always good on remembering to take pictures but this year I caught Melina Slotnick and Sharron Crawly on a picture while they visited. While visiting and touring our facilities basement and technical area they discovered that we have a secret party club down there. They quickly named the club “The filter Five” only exclusive members can join – we still do not know who. 
It's so nice to have guests and thank you to all who has come and visited us through the years. We are always happy to see friends and colleagues and it is also interesting to see our Swimmix through your eyes.

Opening in Stockholm was not a breeze. Far from it! Opening a new facility is tough but this was tougher than tough. We opened in a construction area with only one out of the two pools operational. Water in the showers was freezing cold after only two hours of classes. (In Scandinavia everyone showers before entering the pool due to strict regulations on hygiene). Heating system was under dimensioned. The ventilation system sounded like we had a jet engine running by the pool and shutting it off left us working in a steam bath. 
Pool water often dropped below 30 degrees Centigrade which ment that we regularly had to cancel our baby classes. Due to contract we had a guaranteed temperature between 33.0-34.0. The chemicals in the basement was not appropriate due to handling and regulations which ment that also Johan had to fly back and forth to Stockholm and take care of the technical part. Just as we put in our office inventories we had a burglary but because we have everything steel-wired to the walls the only thing they do is destroy a window, a locker and leave a mess.

Customers are happy with our program and how the facilities look but are not happy with the many cancelations, which is very understandable. We have meetings with the manager of the building and send our complains in writing to the owner and manager but nothing really happens. When talking to other tenants we learn that he is facing more than one lawsuit and that he has not paid his contractors so many has gone into bankruptcy. A disturbing and alarming picture is forming. Too well we remember our contract negotiation. We really thought that he understood that we run a quality concept and what that meant. Our dream is becoming a nightmare. I am not a person who cries when it's tough but I cry. It's so frustrating and it wears and tears me.

In december our lawyer send a written letter that if they don't take care of the shortcomings, finalize and guarantee what we have agreed on in our contract we will terminate the contract. We do not have a chance to deliver the quality and reliability we are known for and it's too stressful to work under these conditions for staff and for us.

We close down and go on a three week Christmas break to give the owner enough time to fix things – ready to open again in mid January and we hope that they understand and call to action.

The year starts out with a trip to Maui to meet with and attend the exclusive group The Champions Club, a group of owners and managers of the worlds biggest swim schools. As me and Johan now work together both of us attend. And out of practical reasons and our children's young age they had to join us – they did not complain. And they had a blast. 
The Champions club gives us an exclusive opportunity to learn from people from other businesses and at the same time being together with other swim school owners and entrepreneurs within the swim school community. The presentations, talks and sharing give energy and kindles the drive to take a couple of steps up ourselves and for business. Thank you to the USSSA and all you wonderful and hard working people for creating this and all other special opportunities for us. Thank you to all the presenters for your time and effort preparing and sharing your ideas, knowledge and stories.

During spring I write my first book, in Danish: “Politikens Bog om Babysvømning” (translated it's the Politikens (Publishers name) Book on Baby Swimming). The publisher is one of the biggest in the little kingdom. Writing it was tough. I gave my self a 3 week timeline and wrote during the very early morning hours and only slept for 3-4 hours a night. I had to take care of normal duties at the same time. But this was something I really wanted to do. Johan was not pleased. I usually need my 10 hours of sleep and looking back I can't understand how I managed. But I think that is how it is. When you really want something you do what it takes. 
Thank you to project manager Ane Børup, editor Gitte Hou Olsen and photographer Lene Sørensen Rose. Thank you for the opportunity, the help and the chance to work with you. Thank you to all the families who participated and staff in both countries for help, support and encouragement. Last but not least thank you for the love, patience, support and understanding from Johan, Auguste and Ida when I go into my “have-to-do and have-to-finish mode”. Together we did it and I was so happy!

The WABC Conference is in New Zealand this time. Noa and I meet up and enjoy a couple of days in Sydney before flying to the windy but beautiful Wellington. The conference is packed with interesting presentations, fascinating cultural experiences, fun, dinners, party and amazing people. Thank you to the whole organizing team and all attendees for a fantastic conference. 

2007 is also the year where we step up our technology another notch. The instructors start using 'iPads' (not the neat version we have today but a thick, heavy but water resistant one) in the pool for participant lists, attendance and objectives and we stick 50” monitors on the walls with live data about participants in the pool at the time – First movers on KeepTracks newest gadgets. We feel very hight tech. But even better more rainforests are saved and we have less paper to handle on our path to the goal of no paper at all. We work with children and as they will enherit our world after us environmental aspects has always been important to us.

In Denmark our facility Manager Caroline ends her journey with us and Majken Danstrup takes over the baton. Majken has great communication and coaching skills and even if her time with us is short she leaves a lasting footprint. Thank you Majken for your time with us - you saw both individuals and the teams strengths and the right things to work on. All of us grew with you. Before the year ends we have two choices for a new facility manager. The choice finally falls on Laerke Bregenhøj. She has worked with us as a teacher for a couple of years and steps in full of energy and an enthusiasm that is enriching. 
In Sweden Carolina leaves her position as facility manager and Malin Karlsson takes over. Malin is a kind and empathic person that with a soft approach manages the Swedish facility. 
Thank you Malin for your time and opportunity to work together with you.

We are ready to open the next facility and it is going to stand as a model for many more if it works out as planned. We meet the owner of a successful PR bureau, 3rd Dimension. We join forces with them and they help us with the PR strategy for the existing, our next and future locations. Together we dreamed big and drew up the possibilities, made the strategy and started to work on the PR. 
Thank you for letting us dream big, opening perspectives, and opening doors to opportunities and important contacts. And also thank you for delicious and inspiring lunch meetings :)

Looking towards 2008 we see our next facility opening. Exciting!

In 2006 our little family moved to Sweden. We have a couple of months before we can move into our new house. The big conference room at the office became our private chambers. We get one private corner each. I know it sounds, and was, crazy but it was also cozy and fun. Truth is it could also be a little too much... Ida clearly expressed her need of privacy “-Get out of my corner!” 
In March we moved into our beautiful yellow 1920ies house that became our home. Thank you to our office staff for your patience and good mood. I have great memories from then and I miss our delicious thursday breakfast meetings.

Keeping parents in the water and teaching parents and children together during the entire learn to swim process is quite unique. Taking a different route compared to the traditional swim school format is full of different and new experiences for everyone. It has an effect on both teaching, children, parents and teachers. Right in front of me I see active interaction, I see children and their parents and their impact on and how they affect one another and how they develop together. I see the impact and effect teachers have on individuals and class in general. It's so clear that it's not the specific skills but rather what happens between us humans that has the biggest impact on a child's possibility to reach it's full potential. 
I enjoy and find it very rewarding to teach. I also learn to really understand the importance of “being seen for who YOU are” not what others wants you to be. So obvious yet so difficult. To teach children is a delicate balance due to the human need to belong and therefore an ability to cooperate even beyond what is healthy for the individual.

I start studying. Attachment specifically captures my interest. Attachment is the important bond between a parent and child which has a tremendous effect on our mental health and ability to closeness to others in adult life. In water many attachment situations occur naturally and I thought about “what we do, or can do, in water and classes is unique and can have very positive effect for many in areas you might not immediately think of”. The pool can be a perfect arena for learning and for healthy development for families. 
Thank you to the many experts within child development and psychology for the knowledge you share, books you've written and write. Thank you for the opportunities where you lecture and present. Thank you for explaining and the patience for the slow process of learning and changing ;)

We celebrate our 5th birthday in our facilities which is a important mark. I had promised the Mayer and Director in Farum when we signed the contract that we would have reached more than 500 families swimming on weekly basis by year five. They didn't think it would be possible. We have reached almost the double! Thank you to our dedicated teachers and administration – when we believe and do it together we can reach our goals and beyond. Thank you - without you it wouldn't been possible!

We also have our challenges but sometimes it's a little more than you can imagine. In Farum we experienced that cash and merchandize disappeared in large quantities and left us sleepless. I had experienced theft in small amounts before and it always gives you an uncomfortable feeling of disbelief but I had never experienced it in these amounts and quantity. Staff was uncomfortable and all agreed on installing surveillance cameras. Everybody was interested in catching the thief. We couldn't believe it was one of us. But it was. After suddenly giving facility manager Caroline a very hard time one of our staff members disappeared and didn't show up for classes. After the weekend a police officer calls Johan to inform that we have an employee behind “the stiff curtains”. The person was arrested for not one but three armed robberies and a series of thefts. Who would have guessed? Well you learn that everything is actually possible. I hope this individual has sorted out life and is on a good track again. 
The persons father later came by with two bags full of bathing suits and goggles belonging to us but the money we lost and the experience we got left a hole in our pockets and a scar on our trust.

Thank you to everybody for giving each other and us support during this time. You maintained an impressively good attitude.