Private swimming lessons popular amid pandemicWeSwim owner has a waiting list for lessons - something she says is unusual
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
Hamilton parents are seeking out private swimming lessons in droves amid the pandemic. WeSwim owner Michelle Turco says she can't keep up with demand. "I get five to 10 emails a day from parents asking about our availability", said Turco, 32 "I have a waiting list and cancellation list."
Turco founded WeSwim, a private swimming instruction company, in her parents' back-yard pool in Ancaster when she was 16 years old.
Operating out of private swimming pools - including those owned by clients, as well as indoor and outdoor pools available to rent - she offers swimming lessons, water fitness classes and parent-and-tot swims
But for the first time in 16 years, Turco said she is struggling to keep up with requests for her services. Why is the demand so high?
One answer is a "lack of options," she said
City-run swimming lessons are only now restarting as the province and city lift pandemic-related restrictions and bring services back online. (Registration will open Friday, with programming expected to begin on Aug 9, according to Laura Kerr, manager of program development.)
Those same restrictions have also kept many of the indoor private pools Turco typically rents shuttered - limiting the number of clients she can serve
Some pools have reopened for bookings, while others have permanently closed, she added.
Meanwhile, Turco's outdoor lessons, which she holds everywhere from Burlington to Stoney Creek, were only able to resume June 14.
"We still have 150 kids right now that we're teaching, but if we had access to more pool space, we could potentially be doing 250," said Turco - that was her pre-COVID capacity. But even then, she would have to turn some clients away.
I'm constantly saying 'no' to parents and I feel their frustrations," she said.
The shuttering of indoor pools has also impacted Turco's business, which relies on being able to offer swimming lessons year-round - not just in the warm and sunny months.
As a consequence of the pandemic, "we lost 75 per cent of our revenue," she said.
Turco's students have also felt the fallout from the delays and back of availability, Turco said, nothing some children have "re-gressed" In their skills while others are learning much later in life.
"Swimming is a life skill ... it should have beena priority throughout the pandemic," said Turco.
"No ifs, and or buts about it."
Fallon Hewitt is a Hamilton based reporter at The Spectator Reach her via email: email@example.com