I don’t know about you, but I had a challenging time getting my 4 year old son enrolled in swimming lessons this spring. Between COVID restrictions and wait-lists, it was harder than expected. Swimming lessons are a top priority to me as a mom, so I was thrilled when Goldfish Swim School reached out to let me know they are opening a new location in Danvers, inside the Liberty Tree Mall! Goldfish Swim Schools are actually franchises, and the four locations closest to the North Shore are all owned by Sarah Kepic, a mom of 2 boys, who both learned to swim at Goldfish locations in Michigan. Keep reading to learn more about how Sarah became a franchise owner, why she chose Massachusetts, and the important check-in she does with her kids to better balance work demands and family life.
Where are you from originally and what town do you live in now?
I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and have lived in Birmingham, Michigan for almost 20 years!
How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
We have two boys. Max is 13 and will be an 8th grader in the fall. Owen is 10 and will be a 5th grader in the fall.
What’s your favorite family activity on the North Shore (or in general)?
We are just getting to know the North Shore! We have spent a lot of time at the Liberty Tree Mall, as that is where we are building our facility. We can’t wait to explore the beaches, visit the Salem Witch Museum, Aloha Mini Golf with my kids, shop and dine in Newburyport and get to know other small business owners and their stories.
Where’s your favorite place to eat and/or shop on the North Shore?
Funny enough, I have only stopped into Panera, next to our site, for coffee! Tell me, where should I be eating? I do love Cafe Nero. What a charming little spot on those cold, Boston winter days. I LOVE to shop and am so happy that we will be around the corner from the Northshore Mall!
Though you live in Michigan, you’re the owner of three existing Goldfish Swim School locations in Massachusetts, with a fourth on the way! Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a franchisee of Goldfish Swim School.
While it is true that I live in Michigan, Boston has certainly stolen my heart! The pandemic has prevented me from traveling these last 15 months but I am excited to return in June and July! When I moved to Michigan in 2003, I was introduced to Jenny and Chris McCuiston by my in-laws. Jenny and Chris would go on to open the flagship Goldfish Swim School in our town of Birmingham in 2005. We did not have kids at the time but I couldn’t wait to enroll them in lessons as soon as we did! Max, our eldest was born in 2008, and we had him in lessons at 6 months. He LOVED the water. I was able to meet so many other moms through Goldfish, and felt such relief having Max at the lake and pools so as soon as Owen was born in 2010, we enrolled him as well. Both boys ended up swimming on summer swim teams for many years and we couldn’t thank Goldfish enough for giving them the confidence to be independent and safe swimmers.
Once Owen started kindergarten I knew I wanted to go back to work. My career was in advertising before I had my kids and I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. My husband Peter and I were having dinner one night and I just looked at him and said, “I think we should open up a Goldfish Swim School!” His response was, “Sounds good, but where?” We had always loved Boston–how can you not?! It would be an easy flight, there was a need for swim schools and we would get to give back the gift of water safety to so many families. It was really an easy decision and probably one of the best ones we have made as a family. We opened our Needham location in 2015 and have never looked back!
When do you expect to open registration for lessons at your Danvers location?
We hope to open registration by September 1st but we are currently taking pre registrations through our website at https://www.goldfishswimschool.com/danvers.
What sets Goldfish apart from other swimming lessons?
Our core values and curriculum set us apart from other lessons. We believe that from the moment you walk in our door you feel the Goldfish difference. Our warm and welcoming team, tropical decor, 90 degree pool deck air and water temperature make our lessons fun and take some of those fears kids and parents may have away. Our mission is simple. We teach kids how to be safe in and around water. We do it by following our proven curriculum all while instilling the Science of Swim Play (trademark).
What age can children learn to swim at Goldfish?
4 months to 12 years of age!
Do parents need to get in the pool with their young kids during lessons?
Our Mini 1 and Mini 2 lessons require a parent in the pool, so that is ages 4 months to 3 years of age. We do have a special program we call our Mini 3 lessons that are designed for 2-year-olds, that does not require a parent and are for the more independent children. This is one of my favorite levels, because it is amazing to see 2-year-olds floating and rolling over!
As a mom and business owner, how do you balance work and motherhood? Any tips?
Wow, this is a tough one! I am very lucky that I have an extremely supportive husband who wants to see me succeed. I ask for help when I need it. I think that is super important. I have an incredible leadership team who runs the show for me and without them this wouldn’t be possible and more importantly fun for me. I love that Max and Owen are watching me work hard for something that I am passionate about. When I am busy, I try to ask them if they need me to slow down or if they need more from me because my family is my number one priority and it’s important that I have a good, honest pulse on who needs what from me.
What is the best piece of mom advice you ever received?
At the end, there is no trophy. Don’t try to be everything for everyone. I love being a mom but there are days when it is overwhelming and you can’t quit. Finding ways to be the best version of yourself is what will make your kids happy.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you need some “me” time?
I am embarrassed to admit but I have yet to find a Netflix show and glass of wine that I didn’t like! Unplugging into the mindlessness of a romantic comedy and not having anyone need a snack or a ride to baseball practice is heaven on earth to me! I like to stay busy so doing this can be a challenge, but when I do, I am a better version of myself for sure!
Follow along with Sarah’s Goldfish Swim Locations on Instagram at @goldfish_danvers, @goldfish_burlington, @goldfish_needham and @goldfish_brookline. Find them on Facebook at facebook.com/goldfishdanvers, facebook.com/goldfishburlington, facebook.com/goldfishneedham, and facebook.com/goldfishbrookline.
This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School (locations in Needham, Burlington, Brookline and Danvers).