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Couple hopes new swim school will make a splash in Pine Township

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Scott and Christy Payne plan to build the Pittsburgh area’s first Goldfish Swim School on Lake Drive near the north end of Wexford Plaza. The facility will be specially designed for children from four months of age to 12 years old.

A Goldfish Swim School is coming to Pine Township.

Scott Payne, 40, of Bradford Woods, and his wife, Christy, 39, plan to build the Pittsburgh area's first Goldfish Swim School — for ages 4 months to 12 years old — on Lake Drive near the north end of Wexford Plaza.

“My wife and I have always wanted to do a business together,” said Scott Payne.

Pine supervisors voted March 18 to approve the couple's land development plans for their Goldfish Swim School.

“The plan is to break ground in May,” Payne said. “We're hoping to open in August or September of this year.”

The proposed aqua academy is part of a Michigan-based chain of schools launched in 2006.

One-time Detroit Tigers draftee Chris McCuiston — a Pittsburgh native — co-founded the chain with his wife, Jennie, a former champion swimmer with a college degree in early childhood education.

“My dad was a Bethlehem Steel guy,” said Chris McCuiston, now CEO of the Goldfish Swim School chain.

“We have eight schools that are open now,” he said. “We have seven that are in development.”

The Paynes learned about the McCuistons' venture through a business associate.

“A friend of mine from Detroit has been sending his children to this swim school in Birmingham, Mich. for a long time,” Payne said. “He's actually friends with the McCuistons.

“My wife and I went out and visited it,” Payne said. “We were just absolutely wowed by what we saw, and what was going on in the swim school.”

Scott Payne currently sells medical equipment for a living. Christy Payne is a former teacher.

“We complement each other in what we bring to the business,” said Payne.

The couple has four children, ages 1 to 8, whose names — Maggie, Stella, Ruby and Henry — inspired the Paynes' official business name: MSRH Inc.

People can sign up for lessons at the Paynes' proposed Goldfish Swim School at the chain's online site.

“A lot of parents are finding us on the Internet,” Payne said. “Parents have already preregistered.”

The McCuistons opened the first Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Mich.

“We didn't have a facility dedicated to kids in our area . . . So we figured, ‘Why not develop a facility that had warm water, small class sizes and a very child-friendly atmosphere.'”

The cost for swimming instruction at a Goldfish Swim School is $78 per month for weekly, 30-minute lessons.

“We have no more than four kids in a class,” McCuiston said. “Our pools are kept at 90 degrees, and our air temperature is kept at 92 degrees.”

All instructors are certified in cardio pulmonary resuscitation, according to McCuiston.

“The safety element of our business is very critical,” he said.

The McCuistons began franchising their school pools in 2009.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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