In the wake of a Commonwealth Games in which UK swimmers and divers brought in a fabulous haul of 50 medals, Olympic medallist turned entrepreneur Michael Jamieson is enjoying a surge of interest in his hugely popular Swim Academy.
The Central Scotland-based Michael Jamieson Swim Academy (MJSA) classes, all held in private pools, have seen a growth of 30% on pre-Covid numbers, and the successful Olympian is predicting a near doubling of turnover in the coming year.
He has also created significant job opportunities for swimming trainers, lifting his headcount from six in the depths of lockdown to 34 now, and has launched a dedicated Training Academy to address the pressing need for coaches.
Focusing on the younger end of the learning spectrum, with three-to-seven years as the typical starting age, MJSA has also gained traction by having the smallest class sizes in the sector – four to a class compared to the more normal six, and up to 12 in council-run classes.
Jamieson, 34, who won Silver at the 2012 London Olympics and has a clutch of other World, Commonwealth and European medals, said: “After a hugely frustrating time last year, this has been a period of healthy – and sustainable – growth, on which we are building very effectively.
“The Academy is limited by the capacity of the facilities, and one of our biggest venues only opened again in May this year, but the relationship between us and the pools we use is excellent and that is reflected in the customer experience.
“What I have learned over the last few years is that I have to be patient and become a master of the product, providing a dynamic learning environment to develop curious, self-aware, responsible young people through the sport of swimming.”
Jamieson was encouraged in the Covid period by the fact that 92% of parents stayed with him and the 1,100 to 1,200 pupils he was teaching per week has now increased to 1,700, with a target of 2,000 by the Academy’s fifth anniversary in April next year.
Turnover has accelerated from £160,000 pre-Covid to £500,000 in the year to the end of September and Jamieson is predicting a substantial increase to between £850,000 and £1 million to September 2023.
MJSA is currently operating at six venues – Hamilton College, Radio Clyde’s pool in Clydebank, Glasgow University’s Stevenson Building, the Energize Gym in Edinburgh, Edinburgh University’s St Leonard’s Land pool and St Kentigern’s in Blackburn, West Lothian.
Further expansion is predicated on securing new venues and the Academy is on the lookout for new facilities with available key spots, such as the hours immediately after school, which are in high demand. Baby and parent classes, a growth area, are also dependent on a suitable pool temperature.
The use of private, rather than municipal, swimming pools remains very popular with parents and Jamieson said that the Academy is evolving from being regarded simply as an external service provider into relationships which are more like partnerships.
Jamieson said: “Our growth is testament to the hard work and passionate team we have built at MJSW and with our focus on in-house training and development, the team is committed to delivering the best experience possible for the children enrolled.
“Partners such as Glasgow University and Hamilton College have been super positive in their relationships with us and, with the launch of the Training Academy, we can now reciprocate by working with staff and students and even offering work experience placements.”
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