Today we’d like to introduce you to Amy Clayton.
Amy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Sixteen years ago, after the birth of my third child, I was looking for a way to contribute financially to my family while also setting my own schedule so I could spend time with my kids. I have always had a love of swimming, spending my youth swimming for some local teams. I also enjoyed teaching my own kids how to swim, so I decided to become an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor. That summer, I started scheduling swim lessons with my friend’s kids, traveling to their pools to teach. I taught off and on the way back then, but it wasn’t until I lost my job in 2010 that I decided to start offering lessons in my backyard.
I taught 53 kids that summer, and I was hooked. I absolutely loved the freedom of teaching swim lessons and enjoyed sharing my love of swimming with my students. I was able to set my own schedule and spend time with my children, too. Word of mouth spread and the next summer I doubled the amount of kids I taught. Each year enrollment grows, and it is all because of recommendations from my student’s parents. I learned that many people wanted their kids to learn in a more relaxed backyard setting. I offer small group (no more than four students per class) and private swim lessons.
I really think students respond well when there are limited distractions, and I think this is why I work with so many special need kids. I’ve successfully taught many kids that are on the autism spectrum and hold them all dear to my heart. I won’t ever turn my back on a child even when other swim schools have asked them not to return. It’s hard for me to believe that some schools turn their backs on these kids. I believe EVERY child needs to know how to swim. Today, I have one full-time employee, who happens to be my 22-year-old daughter.
Bailey has taught with me for four years. I started her out assisting me with my Pollywog classes, and she has progressed to teaching her own private and small group classes. Last summer, Bailey taught 150 kids! I also employ my 16-year-old son on a part-time basis to assist in my Pollywog classes. It helps to have two sets of eyes and four hands when you have slippery toddlers in class.
Has it been a smooth road?
My main struggle has definitely been time. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to get everyone scheduled that wants in. Of course, everyone wants to get their swim lessons done at the beginning of the summer. Because of this, I start taking registrations for the following summer in December. It is on a first come, first serve basis and is all done online. Parents are already registering for 2019 because I get booked so quickly. Many classes for next summer are already full or almost full.
It was really hard for me to turn the reins over to Bailey and allow her to have her own classes, but doing so allowed me to scale back on how much I was teaching. I don’t get to know each child like I do when I’m the only teacher, but as long as she is following my curriculum, I know these kids are getting the best, most loving swim instruction possible.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Amy’s Aquatics is an at home swim school. I teach children from the age of 18 months all the way up to kids who are getting ready for swim team. I have overheard parents calling me everything from the “Swim Nazi” all the way to the “Swim Whisperer.” I love taking a child who won’t put their face in the water and turning them into a swimmer on day one. These are some of my greatest accomplishments.
I’m really proud of the relationships I’ve built with my students and their families. I consider all the people who enter my backyard my friends, and I’m blessed daily by these friendships. I think these relationships are what makes me so different than the bigger swim schools. I truly care for each child that enters my yard, and I try to make sure swim lessons are a positive experience for them. If the kids are not leaving my yard with a smile on their face, then I’m not doing my job properly.
The thing I am most proud of, though, is that I’m giving these kids a lifetime of love and respect of the water. I want every child I teach to enjoy being in and around the water as much as I do, but I’m also teaching kids how to save their lives. Unfortunately, no child is drowning proof, but I’m going to teach as many kids how to swim and how to be safe in the water as I can.
Drowning is among the leading causes of death in autistic kids. There’s something about the water that draws these kids to it. Not only do I teach these kids to swim, but I’m also teaching them what to do if they fall in the water; how to float on their backs so they can rest and breathe, how to get themselves to the wall or the steps, and how to enter and exit the water safely. A very large part of my teaching is on water safety, not just learning to swim.
I really feel that all kids should experience swim lessons. That’s why I have offered free and reduced-price swim lessons to those that need them. I’ve had several parents over the years come to me and tell me that what their child learned in my classes helped save their lives. It never fails to stun me when I hear these stories, but then I am filled with a huge sense of pride. Something I taught that child stuck with them, they knew what to do, and they were able to help themselves out of a life-threatening situation.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I feel like the Flower Mound/Highland Village area is great for small businesses like mine. If someone were looking to open a business here, I’d tell them to join groups on social media with like minded people or people who have similar interests, activities, or hobbies.
My business has flourished because of word of mouth. I can look through my database and see which of my friends attend a certain church, or workout with a certain group of moms, or who attend a certain elementary school. I have a mom group that returns to me each summer and every summer more moms from their group sign up with me.
- Small group lessons (up to four kids) $175
- Private lessons $350
- Semi-private lessons $225 per child
- Website: www.amysaquatics.com
- Phone: 972-571-7220
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amysaquatics/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amysaquatics/?ref=br_rs
Miranda Longoria Photography