Blog

1998 To spare some time on commuting I try to run the swim school office from home in Denmark. Technology should be ready to transfer calls between the two countries but in reality phone lines doesn't work as stable as I need it to be. Instead I hire help with registration at the office in Sweden.

Denmark has many heated pools for baby swimming and there is a strong tradition within families of visiting the community pools and swim. But private swim schools is very rare. It's communities, public schools and subsidized swimming clubs that mostly teach swimming. Therefore there is hardly any culture or custom for private operators to lease or rent in this field.

But this year I finally find a pool in Copenhagen. I sign a contract for evenings and sundays at a private rehabilitation center – Juhuu! My initial plan is to close down in Sweden and live and work in Denmark. But how would I be able to do that? I am not. With good, loyal and responsible staff in Sweden I keep our Swedish swim school and I continue commuting and teaching now in two countries.

We slowly but surely fill up our classes in Denmark and I am lucky to find two great teachers.

But the joy is short. At the end of the year the CEO at the rehabilitation center wants out of the contract. Why is hard to understand. Johan helps me to find a great Danish lawyer. He says that we can go to court, we would most surely win, but it would take at least two years. In the mean time the CEO can close the doors on us. Our lawyer recommends us to negotiate. If the CEO gives us 6-12 months more to find a new pool we will sign off the contract. I am devastated and frustrated. Life is not always fair. I know how much this has cost. I know how hard it was to find this pool. I don't want to disappoint our families who swim with us. I don't want to disappoint my staff. But I have no better solution. I agree to try to negotiate. We go for, and get, 12 months. Now I want my own facility!

Thank you to all the Danish swim families who dared to believe in and try something different. Thank you to my first Danish staff members, it was a joy to get to know and work with you. Thank you to both swim families and staff for the loyalty, support and understanding when we broke the news that we only had a year left and that I did not know what would happen after that other than “we were working on it”.

Thank you to our lawyer Anders who helped us in the best way and actually spared me for more head- and heartaches. He knew what I did not know about our legal system.

It's 1997 and I am pregnant with Ida. I teach until a week before due date and summer holiday has begun. A strong and healthy little sister and daughter makes her entrance and completes our family. Soon we notice that she has a different approach to exploring her possibilities in water. She didn't smile nor laugh much, she was busy, very concentrated in learning how to best turn and tumble – she was our little seal. When on land we had a hard time keeping her out of water when there were water holes nearby.

I find out that there is an international conference on baby swimming in Mexico in October. I sign up and book the tickets. Three weeks later we are on our way, Auguste (4 yrs), Ida (4 months) and a nanny. Arriving in Mexico is quite emotional as I lived and went to school here when I was a little girl. Here I get to meet many amazing people. Knut Rosén was the first. Mr. Rosén was a pioneer on baby swimming in Sweden, a man whom I'd heard so much about. He was in the pool when we first met. He smiled said hello like we already were friends and asked Auguste to jump in and join him. With out a doubt Auguste jumped into the pool and in the arms of this gentle man and they played. That's the impact he has on people. I also met Eva Bramfalk for the first time, she has ever since been a friend and supportive colleague whom I value a lot.

Attending this conference was a new and different experience! It was interesting, educational and a time to have fun, network and socialize. Speakers that stood out at this conference and gave me a lasting impact and later also became good friends was John Bainbridge and John Coutts. What hilarious yet educational show they performed about the history of baby swimming, “Two old farts at the retirement home in 2030 talking about baby swimming”. Right? And opening that show in James Bond Style was Dave DuBois, a man who later will have a significant impact on me and our teaching. Here was also where I saw Laurie Lawrence for the first time, I had never before experienced a man that could fill a room as he did – I was impressed. Far, far away from home I felt at home.

Thank you Ida for being you and for all the opportunities to be inspired by your creativity and drive to do it your own way. You often have, and still do, amaze me and we are blessed to have you in our life. Thank you to Johan that was supportive and trusting to let me take the kids and go on a adventure far away.

Thank you Beatrice and Lulu, the glowing hostesses of the conference in Mexico, what a tremendous job you did and such wonderful memories you gave us all. Thank you Knut Rosén for taking baby swimming to Sweden and sharing what you knew so generously. I am happy and honored to call you my friend. A deep and sincere thank you to all of you who were in Mexico. To experience the sharing and the fun was mind blowing and special. To be surrounded by people who share the same interest and passion had a tremendous impact on me. We went home and my head was full of impressions. I understood that there is plenty more for me to learn. I knew that I would have to find a way to be able to attend these conferences also in the future.

1996 is the year where I invite parents to stay in class along with their children instead of the transition where the children move on to the more classical swim school where they just swim together with their peers. Parents are thrilled and their children are unaware of a possible change. Their weekly swim keeps the format they seem to be very happy with.

The heater at the school pool freaks out so we are teaching in 36-38ºC. The heater was not dimensioned for the warm water we had agreed on in our contract. The humidity system wasn't either. They needed to close the pool and make the necessary improvements. We had to relocate. It was urgent. But where to? When doing some errands the same day I looked in through the window to a retirement home and there it is - a pool! It's interesting how sometimes what you need just comes to you. A week later we were relocated. 
We get a new logo and profiling. It feels professional and I am happy.

When the school pool is ready we have enough attendees to fill all three locations. More staff is added to the team. I was in the pool for 25 hours a week teaching, had a staff of 11 teachers, teaching a little bit more than 500 children a week and I managed the administration single handedly. 
I feel like I know more, maybe a lot. What can I say - Ignorance is bliss!

This year I also learnt two very important lessons: 1. The importance of consistency for a child, 2. That it's nice for a parent to get support and a helping hand sometimes. 
I had neglected our sons swimming lessons for almost a year. Our happy and very confident swimmer was not so confident anymore. I had taken away the opportunity for him to keep what was totally natural and a joy for him. He was too young to be able to remember for such a long time. I took him and my sister to Spain in the beginning of our summer holidays. With a feeling of guilt I had a hard time accepting the fact that he needed time to gain confidence again. Luckily for both him and me, my sister stepped in. Seeing her play with Auguste got me on the right track again. By giving him time and space, he himself, through play together with us, quickly felt at ease in the water again (Picture is from then). I never neglected swimming lessons after that.

Thank you to the first parents who stayed in with their children until they actually swam away faster and better than their parents. Thank you to all, past and present, parents for the trust and the many hours you have spent and spend investing in your children's swimming. Thank you to all the children that has had us as their swim school, thank you for hours of fun and for teaching us to develop into better teachers. 
Thank you to Fredskilde & Sørensen in Denmark who developed our logo and profiling. Having a strong visual profile that carries your message means a lot. You did the magic!

1995 - I was hungry for learning more! I read all the books there were on baby swimming and I attended Sweden’s first ever teacher course in baby swimming.

Classes were full and parents asked me for swim lessons for their older kids. I admit, that made me feel a little flattered. OK let's be honest, I felt really flattered! So of course I'd do that, I was a swim teacher with previous experience and I knew swimming! No problem! Oh yes, there was a problem, a big problem! Where would I find a suitable pool for us?

After a notorious search I finally found and signed a contract for a pool at a school, ironically close to where we lived. I hired my first staff members. Again I found my self in the situation wondering: "WHAT AM I DOING? I HAVEN'T GOT A CLUE ABOUT MANAGEMENT!" 
I took a deep breath, held my head up high and took on my new responsibility. Inside with the feelings of uncertainty and insufficiency tumbling in my mind.

We opened, classes full. My mom, the structured, organized computer wizard was an invaluable help as she rushed from her work to sit and take care of our very simple and temporary reception (a classroom table and chair) the first weeks. She also helped me set up my first computer and a customer register, in “Works”. That was high-tech then!

My easy life was history. I had taken on a pair of giant shoes and it would take me years to grow in to them. Just to top it off we bought a house and moved to Denmark, giving me a 1,5 hour commute by car and a tour on the ferry. Back then there were no bridge between Denmark and Sweden.

The Oresound froze that winter, the ferries between Malmo and Copenhagen closed down. The ferries between Helsingborg and Helsingor was able to operate which ment a 2½-hour one way trip from home to work for me. But hey - you do what you have to do!

Thank you to authors for time and effort in writing books and sharing your knowledge. A warm thank you to the The Swedish Life Saving Association, The Swedish Swimming Federation and especially Lena Stenquist Andersson for investing in baby swimming and having an open and sharing approach. Thank you to my first team of instructors. I wasn't a good manager, “management by hope” was my practise. I am so thankful for your patience, trust and support.

A special thank you to my wonderful sister, Victoria, who only 18 years old started with me as a swim teacher. Her respectful and gentle approach made the most fearful kids believe in them selves and try their own wings. I am lucky to have a caring and wise sister with whom I can always discuss difficult matters and afterwards have the feeling of growth.

Thank you to my mom, who no longer walks this earth with us. I am grateful that you taught me the importance of honesty, doing things properly and to have order in the accounts.

And of course thank you mother nature for only one extraordinary freezing winter – the rest was a breeze in comparison.

1994 we move to Malmö. After having investigated and experienced the market of Baby Swimming for our own happy swim baby I came to the conclusion that I wanted something else for us. The local Fitness Club had a pool that was heated once a week, I got to rent 2,5 hours on Thursdays. With a signed contract in my hand I thought “WHAT HAVE I DONE?! To suppress the fear I went into action.

I named and registered the business “Malmö Babysim”, made material, booked an ad, bicycled around to every health station with my neatly, self made flyers (Happy for my education in grafic desig and illustration) and flew to Norway and attended a course for teachers in Baby Swimming. 
I talked with confidence and no one realized, not even Johan, that inside I was terrified of failure.

Thank you to my old swim coaches in Neptun, Sten Hellqvist, and Hans Holm who taught me to work hard and the meaning and impact of a dedicated coach and teacher. Thank you Jørgen and Friskis & Svettis for the opportunity to rent your pool and later the support as you realized that “the girl from Stockholm was surprisingly nice” (Stockholmers have a reputation of being somewhat obnoxious).

Thank you to Norway’s Life Saving Federation, Eugenie Horn Enge and the knitting team (Yes! they sat knitting while listening) at my first teacher course. Their focus was very family oriented and I also learned that what was most important for families to do was to “kose” (enjoy). Thank you to the first 32 families for the trust and hours of excitement, learning and fun. Thank you for staying with me for years. Thank you to my great love in life, Johan Faerch for always believing in and never questioning my abilities (I do that to perfection my self).

And last but not least thank you to Auguste despite your, at that time, very young age you were my best teacher. The trust and love you showed and the happy and curious approach to life both in and out of water has always been educational, inspiring and highly addictive. Auguste Faerch thank you for the trust in me and the pride you showed of “Mamma Babyswim”. Love to all