Our Story

Goldfish Swim School: Our Story

Passionately Building Character One Stroke at a Time

You feel it the moment you walk in. Something different. It’s more than vibrant colors chosen to inspire kids. More than a curriculum crafted not only to teach kids how to swim but also to build their character through guided play. More than a shiver-free pool heated to 90°. There’s something more. Something unexpected. Something that propels Goldfish Swim School beyond typical. It’s passion.

Not just a passion for kids or a passion for swimming…it’s a special passion for changing – even saving – lives by teaching kids to swim.

A passion born in the heart of a mom driven by her love for children, swimming and a desire to deliver an unmatched “Golden Experience” for kids and their families.

Our Unique Approach to Swimming Lessons

Our revolutionary Perpetual Lessons model includes:

  • One instructor for every four children
  • Year-round swim lessons for children 4 months to 12 years and for swimmers of all abilities
  • Our proprietary The Science of SwimPlay® Curriculum focused on teaching swim and safety skills while building character through guided play
  • Curriculum focused on teaching swim and safety skills while building character
  • Flexible scheduling to accommodate even the busiest family’s schedule
  • And much, much more!

Goldfish History

The Goldfish Experience was born when Co-Founder Jenny McCuiston realized the demand for quality swim instruction after teaching swim lessons at a local swim club in the summer of 2000. She became increasingly busy with customers, and her business grew steadily throughout the summer. In the summer of 2004, Jenny decided to teach swim lessons at a nearby country club. Jenny, again, realized the great need for quality swim instruction as she regularly accumulated a waiting list and her clientele grew to record-breaking numbers for the club by summer’s end.

So, with the help of her husband Chris, Co-Founder of Goldfish Swim School, she began researching the swim industry in late 2004. They traveled the country, learning from other swim school owners at several swim school conferences before beginning the two-year development of their business plan. In early 2005, Jenny created the systems that Goldfish still uses and improves upon to this day, and it was also at that time that she and Chris dreamt up their rustic beach house decor, all from the kitchen of their home.

After the two years of research, and a lot of hard work, Chris and Jenny opened Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Michigan on March 20, 2006. They opened with over 500 students enrolled and, within two years, the business had grown to teach more than 2,000 students per week.

Since opening its first franchise in 2009 in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Goldfish Swim School has continued to grow across North America. There are currently more than 150 schools open or in development in more than 34 states and Canada. Today, Goldfish is proud to teach more than 100,000 students per week how to swim and how to be safer in and around the water.

Goldfish HQ

The Goldfish Swim School headquarters are based in Troy, Michigan.

Learn More About Our Founders

Jenny McCuiston, Co-Founder:

  • Busy mother of four
  • 16-time High School State Champion swimmer
  • 17-time Collegiate All-American at the University of Arizona
  • Two-time Olympic Trials qualifier
  • Degree in Early Childhood Development & Family Studies

Chris McCuiston, Co-Founder & CEO:

  • Busy father of four
  • Former Captain of the Michigan State University Baseball Team
  • Single-Season Record-Holder at Michigan State University
  • Drafted into the Detroit Tigers Organization
  • Degree in Finance

Awards & Designations

  • Entrepreneur of the Year – by Ernst & Young
  • Best Franchise Headquartered in Michigan – by Investment Watch Blog
  • Top 200 Franchises – by Franchise Business Review
  • Top 50 Franchises for Franchisee Satisfaction – by Franchise Business Review
  • Top 50 Franchises for Women – by Franchise Business Review
  • Best of the Best – by Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Hot Franchise Trends – by Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Best Franchise for Any Budget – by Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Franchise 500 (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022) – by Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Michigan Economic Bright Spots (2016, 2017) – by Corp! Magazine
  • Brightest & Best in Wellness – by Brightest & Best
  • Rising Entrepreneur (2015) – by Jewish Vocational Services
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017) – by Ernst & Young
  • Top 200+ (2016, 2017) Franchise Systems (Up and Coming) – by Franchise Times
  • Best swim lessons (2012, 2013) – by Hour Detroit
  • 5000 Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America (2013, 2016, 2017) – by Inc.
  • Best of Association – Facility – by US Swim School Association
  • Best of Association – Magazine Print Ad – by US Swim School Association
  • Elite 40 Under 40 – by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson
  • Best of Michigan Business (Family Business) – by Corp! Magazine
  • Various “Best of…” Awards in multiple markets across the U.S. – by various local/regional publications