Blog

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.

In 2005 Johan resigns from his position at a big Danish media company. His goal is to grow his and his partners own IT company. While working on and developing KeepTrack he also takes on the position as the CEO for Swimmix. He stays with the plan and make sure we keep on structuring, tightening up and streamlining the back bone of the business. The search for new locations starts.

We grow in our existing facilities, more than 90% of our customers stay with us term after term. We change to meet their needs. They want to stay and we love that they do. So when signed up they are enrolled and only need to give us notice if they aren't able to continue swimming. That is a huge positive for all, less stress for families so they are happy, we save time and get a lot better season planning and customer service so we are happy too. Again an idea sparkled from great managers and big swim schools around the world. Thank you!

During our visit to Carlile Swim Schools in Australia we see and experience their On-Deck team, we love the idea. But staff is both very expensive and heavy on regulations in Scandinavia and is even more challenging in a field were there isn't a custom to pay for quality and the actual cost (children's activities). But we can really see the benefits of having an On-Deck team. We discuss, make a plan and decide to invest in doubling the staff. The success criteria is that we get less administration and customers get increased service and experience. They will save time in a busy family life and get personal customer service.

In Denmark we hire our first Facility manager, Caroline Lund Filipovic, a warm and positive woman full of energy with great coaching skills. Many of the staff in Farum grew wings under her management. Thank you Caroline for your compassion, time and energy with us.

The Swedish Swim Federation organizes the WABC conference in Sweden this year. Colleagues and friends from all over the world gather in little Malmö. Part from the conference some took the opportunity to experience a Malmö custom of skinny dipping in the old 1898 Cold Bath facility “Ribersborgs Kallbadhus”. Thank you again for special and happy memories.

I redevelop our curriculum for our baby swimming teachers. During that process I hook up with a kind hearted friend and colleague, Anne Asterhäll. She knows a bit of everything and it's nice to work together in the little cabin in the woods of Blekinge. Thank you Anne for good talks, inspiration and care of a crazy workaholic.

Our swimming manuals develop even more and we need more illustrations. The energetic Mia Lundholm with her camera in hand takes all the step-by-step pictures for our baby swim manual. The pictures also end up in a photo exhibition. Some of them are still in use and it brings joy and good memories to look at them. Great job Mia and thank you.

The year ends and we have sold our house in Denmark and after 10 years in Denmark we are heading east. Over the bridge (which opened back in 2000) to Sweden.

Johan has always been very supportive and helpful, working extra hours in his free time to help out. With his skills and interest in IT, organization and structure we have been very fortunate. 
As we grow exponentially, and to be able to continue doing it, Johan understands that there is a demand for an even more efficient IT tool for customer and staff registration and information in our business. After researching the market and the existing tools he present an idea for Søren Vainio, colleague from Danish Army Special Forces, now an expert in IT and databases. They partner up and with a team of programmers KeepTrack starts it's journey. Swimmix is a very happy and thankful ginny pig in this project. Thank you Johan, Søren and your team for what you have created and for your support. To be able to have a business partner we can trust, in an area where we have very limited knowledge, and where so many state they have knowledge (but in reality don't) has ment unbelievably much to us. I have learnt to appreciate how much time you have saved us and spared us from a lot of frustration.

Strategy plan for the business includes a shared service center in Sweden with an administration that takes care of the businesses in the two countries. We switch to free and open source software (and save tens of thousands of Dollars in the progress) where everything ends up making it more efficient in administration, service and stability. For me the most important effect is that we have resources and time to focus more on what our customers experience and learn when in contact with us. 
We hire a professional photographer, Christian Petersen. He took some amazing pictures for use in ads, manuals, flyers and in the pool area. We are so happy for the images you took, you saw what we see and did the magic. Thank you to Christian and thank you to our models, Ida, Molly and Frederik and their parents. We see your faces every day and they brings smiles on our faces and happiness to us all.

During our tough years we got opportunities to gain energy and focus on being together and just enjoy good relaxed time together in life and nature. The trips and visits to Norway and my mother and father in law with long days skiing in the mountains will always have a special tune and feeling. Words can not express what that has ment to us. The visits to my wonderful sister in law, Malene and her wonderful husband Morten and their children has always meant a lot to us. The weeks every summer in The Jæger Corps where Johan is an instructor training officers in parachuting. Those weeks are always fun and being around people with so much strength and energy is just pure fuel to our minds and souls. Thank you all so so much! You have a special place in our hearts.

In December we are able to take the whole family on a adventurous trip to Australia. Kids just love the “land down under”. We also got the opportunity to see and get a guided tour by the driven managers of the Carlile Swim Schools (picture from one of the locations). We also enjoyed the tremendous hospitality and fun time together with John and Sally Coutts, Richard and Patty Cahalan and with Dave DuBois who by then commuted between New Zeeland and Australia for work. 
Energy is high and we have a better view when we are ready to jump into 2005

Surely but slowly we are recovering financially. All our efforts in cutting back gives results. Mean time we focus on “If it isn't written down... it doesn't exist.” (Lessons from the conference last year) so we write manuals and standards for pretty much everything.

One of our teachers, Renée Fredlund, also runs her own successful business in information management. Learning what that means we hire her to help us out in a huge project of sorting, clearing out, collecting and filing all our data. She tells us what to do and make sure we do it. This ends up into our IMS (Information Management System). Local data from 6 work stations is gathered and stored on one server where we have access to all of it wherever we are. That makes it efficient, secure and with adapted access for staff and their different needs. This has been a great tool for our business ever since. A warm thank you to Renée – for holding us up on the job, you are extraordinary in what you do.

In Sweden we hire our first facility manager back in 2002, Carolina Müller. Investing in and hiring a facility manager became a necessity. The success criteria was that this person is happy with and takes on the responsibility. Carolina runs the facility in Sweden and we are happy with her work. Thank you for all the years with us and the devotion you showed to us and Swimmix.

In Denmark Susanne Leegaard steps in. She is a very skilled woman in project management and marketing and with her she brings great contacts. Lisa Grut and her Bah-Buh art direction took SWIMMIX layout in her hands and transformed into a clean and more modern touch. Lisa Grut and her Bah-Buh art derection is and has been a longlasting professional, creative and debendable businesspartner. Thank you Lisa. Susanne made a lasting positive impact on me and our business – it's fantastic to meet and grow under the wings of experts. Thank you Susanne.

WABC Conference time again; this time in Hawaii and I've also learnt that NSSA has their conference right after. I sign up for both. I fly out to the tropical islands and on the way I meat up with Noa Glotter. Noa I met for the first time in january 2002 at a conference in Finland. Noa is one of the sweetest and nicest persons I've ever met and boy can she make me laugh. Noa's and my friendship grows stronger throughout the years and she is still one of my very best friends. Noa thank you for the talks, support and fun I always have with you. I love you so much and I am happy to have you in my life.

The WABC conference that year left me confused; the organizers delt with challenges which effected the previous always good atmosphere arround these conferences. Lucky for me I hadn't waisted our limited resources completely but I got the opportunity to experience the NSSA conference. And what a conference that was and what a fantastic group of people. This conference and the people speaking and attending went far beyond my expectations. Gathered here was both great leaders, successful business owners and managers, devoted teachers and all very passionate about the learn to swim business. 
This year is in many ways a turning point for us leading us further into building a healthy and strong business. We are on our way to work on the business instead of the business running us. 
Thank you to all of you who are part of the USSSA (prev. NSSA) organization thank you for letting us be a part of this extraordinary group and for all the sharing, learning and fun we have had and still have with you – for that we are for ever thankful.