Olympic Sport Spotlight: Swimming Q & A with Big Blue Swim School

The 2024 Summer Olympics kick off this month in Paris and we’re excited to introduce our new blog series featuring local experts offering insight and helpful advice for parents on popular Olympic sports. We recently asked Erica Kowal, one of the owners of Big Blue Swim School – Paoli for her insights on swimming and advice for parents about the best time to get your kids started with swim lessons.

Swimming first became an Olympic sport in 1896 and Olympic swimming events are often some of the most thrilling to watch as athletes shave seconds off their times and go for gold! This summer In Paris, the swimming events begin on July 27th. One thing all Olympic swimmers have in common is they all probably started with swim lessons as kids! 


Q: When did your business start? 

A: Our Paoli location opened Oct. 9, 2023. Big Blue Swim School was established in 2009.


Q: What is something unique that sets Big Blue Swim School apart? 

A: Our curriculum is based on stamina and endurance with a foundation of straight leg kicking. 


Q: What is your favorite Olympic event to watch and why? 

A: Swimming! 

Kristy Kowal, pictured with her Olympic Medal

Q: Who have been your favorite or most memorable Olympic athletes in swimming? 

A: Kristy Kowal (co-owner and my sister-in-law!) Kristy Kowal was a World Champion, Olympic Medalist and NCAA Woman of the Year. 

Q: What swimmers are you most excited to watch/cheer for this summer in Paris? 

A: Cheering for all our amazing and talented athletes! 


Answers to common questions parents ask when considering swimming for their child: 

Q: What are the best ages for kids to start?

A: The sooner the better. We provide swim lessons for children 3 months -12 years old.

Q: What is an ideal ratio of instructor to child in a class at the beginner level? 

A: We offer a smaller teacher to student ratio for all our levels. For our Bright swimmers (ages 3-5 years old) we have 3 swimmers with 1 instructor and our Bold Swimmers (6 years +) 4 swimmers with 1 instructor. 


Q: How are classes/sessions divided? Age, skill level or both? 

A: Our classes are divided to ensure the best swim lesson experience for all our swimmers. We group students according to their skill levels, age and experience. This makes for a more balanced lesson and more time swimming and less time sitting!


Q: How long does it typically take to get the hang of the sport? 

A: We know that every child is unique in their own amazing way and focus on swimming longer distances at every lesson. Generally speaking, it should take about 20 lessons to accomplish a level. 

How does swimming benefit a child and help them and flourish? 


Q: What are the primary benefits to kids of learning to swim?

A: To reduce the risk of drowning in children and to ensure safe behaviors around water. With our focus on straight leg kicking and stamina, we work with swimmers to gain the confidence to swim longer distances to ensure safety. 


Q: What are some unexpected benefits? 

A: Swimming is not only a skill that will carry on through life but it also helps children build confidence, strength, muscle memory and provide them with a fun swim experience. 


Q: What is your best piece of advice for families whose child wants to get started with swimming? 

A: The best advice I can provide for families as they join our Big Blue Swim School is to know that our mission is to show kids they can do anything by unlocking their full potential in the water. We do this by creating a safe, fun and family-focused environment where our instructors provide effective lessons with a curriculum that will carry over into real world experiences around water. 

For more information on swimming and swim lessons contact Big Blue Swim School – Paoli! For a full listing of swim lesson providers, see our directory.



This article is part of a series: 2024 Summer Olympics: Inspiring the Next Generation of Athletes.

Photos provided by Big Blue Swim School – Paoli.