Competition is getting stiff, but business owners say there’s plenty of room in the pool for everyone

Entrepreneur’s annual ranking of the 500 best franchises has two swim schools on its list this year: Goldfish Swim School in Troy, Mich. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based British Swim School took spots 45 and 309, respectively. The magazine’s formula factors system size, growth, financial strength and stability.

Both schools are seeing their numbers surge after several years of cautious experimentation with the franchise model. Driving the growth, they say, is a greater awareness for water safety and attractive opportunities for aspiring business owners.

Both companies take different approaches to the learn-to-swim business: Goldfish requires an investment of $1.4 to $3 million, part of which will fund the construction of a brightly colored indoor swimming pool that employs a sort-of rustic beach house motif. British Swim School, on the other hand, costs between $80,000 and $100,000 to join. It’s less because franchisees rent space at existing pools at health clubs, condos and hotels.

Both acknowledge that they’re facing competition from other swim-school franchises entering the fray. And that’s a good thing.

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