Later this Summer, DolFun Swim Academy will open in the former Cascade Athletic Clubs location at 9260 SE Stark Street. The recently shuttered gym will become the swim business’s first dedicated commercial location after nearly three decades of offering classes in private pools and shared spaces. Work is underway resurfacing the existing pool and transforming the now-empty exercise equipment room into an educational gymnastics space. The expanded services will accommodate children and adults, greatly expanding this business’s client base and restoring some gym access for Montavilla residents.
DolFUN’s Director, Stacy Crockett, hopes to open by early July. The existing 13 employees will move to this space when they launch in the new location, and Crockett is still looking for more instructors. Transforming the 20,000-square-foot shopfront will take months of work, but its existing layout works well for their needs. However, Crockett did not lease all of the former gym’s footprint and almost agreed to less. “Really, it was the pool that attracted us to the space. Once we talked with the property owners and discussed the rest of the space, we decided to take on more than just the pool area and expand our programming. We’ve had a long-time vision of being able to open a children’s movement and education center. We’re excited that we’re going to be able to achieve that dream,” said Crockett.
The pool is an essential component of DolFUN’s core programming. The company began offering swim classes to young children in 1994. The current class structure has kids grouped into age brackets. “We work on swim skills with infants into toddlerhood until they’re ready to transition to swimming with a teacher on their own,” explained Crockett. The program leans heavily on a staff’s knowledge about developmental ability within an entertaining environment. “Our main focus is on fun and swimming, learning safety skills through play,” said Crockett.
DolFUN students often remain at the academy for nearly a decade, graduating to more advanced levels throughout their early childhood. “Most of our families stay with us between three and nine years. Babies who come into the program tend to stay with us a little longer. Older kids who start after four, they’ll stay with us for about three to four years,” said Crockett. Parents must participate in swim lessons while their children are young, but children can transition to instructor-only sessions after they turn two and a half or three years old.
Class sizes are small and only increase as students become more confident swimmers. “Our seahorse and turtle classes (intermediate level) class has six swimmers with their teacher, and the other classes depend on the level. For our younger levels and non-swimmers, the classes will have four swimmers to one teacher, and our upper levels will have between five and eight swimmers per teacher,” explained Crockett.
Eventually, Stacy Crockett intends to offer eight simultaneous classes at DolFUN. However, for the launch, the weekend schedule will allow five groups at a time, with just two or three occurring together on weekdays. Crockett is allowing Cascade 205 Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy to retain pool access, but that will limit how many DolFUN classes can take place. The pool will also see use from adult students and tri-athletes as part of the new training programs coming to DolFUN. She also anticipates special event classes teaching first aid and CPR to new parents.
Stacy Crockett’s focus has centered on developing young children’s motor skills. Up until now, that work has occurred in a pool. Now the large open room that once housed exercise equipment will support non-swim physical activity. “When you walk in, there’s a huge open floor. So we’re going to have a big tumbling mat with lots of activities for kids to move,” said Crockett. Two educational gymnastic programs will encompass different age groups. “Sweet Peas is targeted for six months to six-year-olds, and our Ninja program is for five to 12-year-olds,” explained Crockett. Adults can sign up for aerobics classes, with cross-training sessions for swimmers and triathletes. Additionally, staff will create a small workout studio with select aerobics and resistance training equipment.
Starting sometime in July, DolFUN Swim Academy intends to open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends, with weekday classes from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday and Thursday. Crockett expects to add more days to the schedule as classes fill up. Existing students will receive priority placement, and then available space will go to families on the waitlist, but they hope to accommodate public registration soon after opening. Interested parents looking to register their child should call (888) 365-3862 or email DolFUN Swim Academy staff.
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