Hi my name is Jane, I’m mum to two gorgeous boys, Jack and Jasper, and the owner of Puddle Ducks Dorset swim school. We run top quality swimming classes from birth to 10 years, as well as aquanatal classes to expectant mums.
When did you start your small business and why?
My passion for baby and child swimming began when my eldest son Jack (he’s almost 12 now!) started attending lessons when he was just nine weeks old. From day one it became the highlight of our week, a special bonding time that surprisingly I enjoyed as much as him! In fact I enjoyed it so much that shortly after returning to work after maternity leave I decided to leave my marketing career and launch my own baby swimming lessons. I was one of Puddle Ducks’ first franchisees, running my first swimming classes in September 2008. Now nearly 10 years later we have expanded beyond all recognition and have taught thousands of children to swim independently and love swimming. I still take great pride in delivering what I hope is a magical experience for both the parents and children who take part in their Puddle Ducks journey. I want every customer to experience the joy I did in the water with my boys, and it is this passion and dedication to the best customer experience that continues to underline our success.
Tell us about your most memorable or greatest achievement so far:
Hands down my most memorable moment was the first time I taught a child to swim independently – I shed actual happy tears! I love building a relationship with every baby’s parents and helping to build their confidence in handling their baby in the water. Helping a child overcome a fear of the water and earning their trust to foster a true love of swimming is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Over time, watching those little ones that you taught from just a few months old gain their 5 or 10m award or ultimately achieve beautiful side breathing in front crawl is pure magic. Now many of the children I taught as babies are leaving and moving onto Swim club. Seeing the end result of all of our efforts is amazing – we equip them with an effortless (and enviable!) stroke, knowledge of water safety and huge love of the water. I’m also incredibly proud of the amazing team that I’ve built – there are 18 of us (and counting!) and they are all so hard working, passionate and committed to Puddle Ducks.
Who is your biggest influence or role model?
My ultimate role models are the Puddle Ducks franchisors Jo and Tracy, two amazing women who created the Puddle Ducks model from scratch back in 2001. They are both very inspiring characters, and I always hope to do them proud. There are so many other inspiring people in our franchise network, people who have incredible knowledge, expertise and so much passion for teaching children to swim.
What do you hope to bring to Dorset Bump to Baby Show 2018?
If we can encourage more people to start swimming with their children – whether in our aquanatal classes, as a newborn or even as a school aged child, then that would be fantastic. People often don’t realise the huge benefits of swimming for young babies – swimming promotes bonding, helps to build a social group, builds discipline and respect for water and is the foundation of learning a crucial life skill.
What’s next for Puddle Ducks?
We’re always growing – both with new venues and with extra classes in our current sessions, and I don’t expect 2018 to be any different! Watch this space…
If you could give one piece of advice for a new mum what would it be?
Throw away the books and go with it! When I was pregnant with my first I read every available book about babies and I thought I had it sorted (haha). When he arrived funnily enough he had rather different ideas! With my second I was so much more relaxed, I really enjoyed every moment and didn’t feel the need to worry about every little thing and whether I was getting it wrong. We can be way too hard on ourselves as mums.
Thank you to Jane for giving this interview. If you're exhibiting at Dorset Bump to Baby Show 2018 and would like to feature in our Guest Blog Spot please contact Zoe and Claire at firstname.lastname@example.org