When Chris McCuiston does his job, he doesn’t only give a child the opportunity to enjoy backyard pool parties, sailboat cruises, and rope swings over the creek, but he gives them the chance to potentially save their own life. It’s why he and his wife, Jenny, opened Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Michigan in 2006. With Jenny having been a collegiate swimmer and now as parents themselves, Jenny and Chris understood not only how children have fun swimming, but also how it can build their confidence and “give them the skill set to save themselves in the event of an accident,” says Chris.
Soon after, Chris and Jenny decided that the best way to grow their business was to offer their business as a franchise to other potential local owners who had the same commitment as them. Goldfish Swim School’s first franchise location opened in Birmingham in 2009, and within 10 years, business was picking up. Franchises opened in Illinois, Ohio, even Canada. Today, the Goldfish franchise operates 121 locations throughout North America, teaching over 150,000 kids to swim weekly.
Through Goldfish, Chris wants to “do right and make sure you leave these children with the right skill set.” But he understands that he and his wife were afforded opportunities in life that not everyone gets. Just a couple miles away, in Detroit, not all kids have the chance to receive quality swim lessons or to learn water safety skills. But they know kids who learn to swim at Goldfish are stronger, more confident, and more social.
That’s why Chris and Jenny have committed to raising a whopping one million dollars for the USA Swimming Foundation to “Float it Forward” – their own version of “pay it forward” to provide kids in underserved communities with the chance to learn an essential life skill. “The investment that we have committed to with the USA Swimming Foundation “Make a Splash” campaign is to raise a million dollars over five years. COVID got in the way of that. However, our goal is to continue to honor that commitment. So whether it takes six years or seven years, we want to give back.”
Every kid deserves to do a cannonball at a pool party regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. The Goldfish Swim School Franchise is floating forward in local communities all across the country.
Chris McCuiston is a local business owner, and he is Open for Opportunity.