Water Babies, the UK’s largest learn-to-swim business and a world leader in baby and toddler swimming, has acquired Waterbabies USA, in a move that further establishes its international footprint and provide access to the massive US learn-to-swim market.
Founded in 2002, Water Babies has developed an international premium swimming brand operating a franchise-led model and teaching 52,000 babies per week. Its largest market is the UK where Water Babies has 52 franchise outlets and around 600 teachers. Water Babies also has growing businesses in Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, and China and has recently launched in Germany. Based in Renton, Seattle, Waterbabies USA, was founded in 1997 and is a well-respected learn-to-swim school providing swimming instruction to babies, toddlers and children from 4 months to 12 years old.
The acquisition of Waterbabies USA will give Water Babies (UK) the US intellectual trade mark to operate under its “Water Babies” brand in the US as well as a foothold in the world’s largest learn-to-swim market (estimated to be $1 billion). By comparison, the UK learn-to-swim market is worth £200 million.
The American Academy of Pediatrics lowered the age it recommends infants to learn to swim to one year old in 2019, from the previous guidance of four years old. As a result, there has been a substantial increase in babies and toddlers learning to swim in the US, with many schools now offering lessons from six months.
Vera Garibaldi, Founder of Waterbabies USA, said:
“It’s been a great privilege to have known and taught so many wonderful babies and children to swim over the 25 years since I founded Waterbabies USA. I’m thrilled that we will now become part of the larger Water Babies family. They are completely aligned with our mission to give children a gift for life by teaching them to swim to generate safety awareness and to contribute to future health and fitness.”
Howard Harrison, Chief Executive of Water Babies, said:
“We are delighted to welcome Waterbabies USA to our growing international family. Waterbabies USA represents a strong cultural fit as a purpose-driven business dedicated to giving children the best start in life.
“Learning to swim equips babies and children with greater confidence and the life-saving skills of water safety, whilst tailored aquatic adventures and purposeful water play enhance their natural cognitive and physical development at each developmental milestone.
“We look forward to sharing best practice with our US colleagues, as well as learning from their expertise in the local market, as we continue to develop our international aquatic programmes, providing access to expert swimming instruction for our generations of the future.”
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