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British Swim School in Cranberry teaches swimming basics

- A British Swim School instructor guides the parents of infants through a lesson at the facility.
A British Swim School instructor guides the parents of infants through a lesson at the facility.
- A student takes a plunge into the pool as British Swim School instructors look on.
A student takes a plunge into the pool as British Swim School instructors look on.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014, 5:45 p.m.

As much fun as sports can be, there is more of an emphasis on safety than ever before. Some sports have had an evolution of helmets or pads, but for those who compete in aquatic sports, or just love swimming recreationally, the British Swim School that recently opened in Cranberry (and another location in Valencia) helps young swimmers learn the most basic techniques of swimming.

What sets the British Swim School apart is that it takes on students as young as 3 months old.

Through a meticulous, gradual and gentle process, it teaches swimmers to roll onto their backs and float — the most important water safety survival skill.

“(Our program) is all about progression,” said Ryan Grindle, an instructor at the school. “We slowly work it so they are comfortable putting their face underwater. … We get them to put their chin in, then their mouth, and eventually their ears and eyes. Once they are comfortable with them, we get them floating.”

The gradual process helps take some of the fear out of the equation. Grindle said there are elements of play time as well for the younger swimmers and babies.

“We make it fun for kids,” he said. “We have a three-step process — the blastoff, the torpedo and Humpty Dumpty. The kids work up to jumping in and floating by themselves. It is amazing how it all comes together.”

Grindle said that with the babies and young kids, the parents are right there in the pool to help ease any tension.

“The parents know their kids, what they can do, and what they are afraid of,” he said. “There can be tears and they can be scared, but usually by the second or third lesson that goes away.”

One misconception of the school is that the teachers will dunk the kids to get them acclimated. Grindle said that is not the case.

“The environment is fun and gentle,” he said. “We don't rush the kids.”

The lessons are 30 minutes long and can be taken up to twice a week.

According to Grindle, he and other instructors have 120 hours of training. He said that having a fun and energetic personality is also a prerequisite for the job.

Becky Grindle, the group's operations manager, along with Traci Brown, Teri Choban and Ryan Grindle own the business.

“We opened the first school in Cranberry at the Hyatt Place, and a second is in Valencia at the Woodlands of St. Barnabas,” Becky Grindle said. “We have a third franchise in Robinson and a fourth is coming to the Woodlands in Wexford, scheduled to open Sept. 3.”

To date, Becky Grindle said 500 children already have come through the program, and there are 300 still enrolled.

“We specialize in safety,” she said. “All of our teachers are CPR and lifeguard certified, and all of our teachers are major college graduates.”

The lessons cost $95 for an eight-week session at one lesson per week, or $150 for two lessons per week.

In addition to teaching basics, Becky Grindle said there are lessons that have the older kids practice swimming in their clothes, to get the feel for what that is like. Instructors also teach the best way to remove clothes in the water to prevent from being weighed down.

British Swim School Pittsburgh is owned by Steel City Aquatics Group, LLC.

“British Swim School is honored to welcome Steel City Aquatics Group to the growing list of franchisees recognizing that water safety and survival is a real problem, but one that can be avoided with proper training,” Rita Goldberg, founder and CEO of British Swim School said.

For more information on the British Swim School, visit

Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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