Big Blue Swim School Targets Houston as Priority Market for Expansion

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With a booming economy and huge population growth for families with kids, swim lessons are in high demand for this coastal city.

Since its founding in 2009, Big Blue Swim School has become one of the fastest-growing players in the $3 billion swim school industry. After signing a development agreement to open three stores in Austin, Big Blue is setting its sights on Houston as its next area for growth in Texas.

Big Blue Swim School is targeting Northwest Houston, including the high-priority territories of Katy, Sugar Land, Cyprus, and Bellaire — for large-scale growth in the immediate future.

A Huge Customer Base of Children in Houston

The Houston metro area, which is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the United States, has a population of 2.31 million, according to 2020 U.S. Census data. That’s a 9.8% increase over 10 years ago and between 2018-2019, Houston added 30,000 households.

This growth is significant for Big Blue franchise partners because 7.6% of that population is under the age of five. For a brand with a mission to teach important life skills of swimming to children ages six months to 12 years, Houston offers a target-rich environment.

According to Big Blue CEO Scott Sanders, the opportunity in Houston is so large that there are currently 14 potential sites for Big Blue stores in the metropolitan market.

“Affluent families are leaving places like California and finding they get more for their money in Houston,” said Sanders. “While it remains the fourth largest city in the country according to new Census data, it offers a density of kids who need swim instruction, which makes the market an appealing area for brand expansion.”

Most of Big Blue’s competitors primarily serve children aged six months to five years. Because it offers instructions to children as old as 12, it has a 30% higher potential addressable market.

Texas has the second largest number of pools in the United States behind California, ranks third for hot tubs, and is located on the Gulf of Mexico, making water safety a priority for Houston parents. Swimming lessons from a certified instructor, school, or organization reduces the incidence of childhood drownings by 88%.

According to Big Blue president and founder, Chris DeJong, the value of learning a vital life skill like swimming goes far beyond safety. “Learning to swim fosters self-esteem and a lifelong love of the water. As we grow in the Houston market, parents will love the experience Big Blue offers them and their children."

Austin Is Already Diving Into Big Blue

The state of Texas leads the entire country in raw population growth. It boasts 15.3% population growth over 2010 figures and between 2019 and 2020 alone, Texas added more than 370,000 residents.

That means big opportunities for Big Blue franchise partners, who are leveraging Big Blue’s technology-forward business. For instance, father-and-son entrepreneurs Rohit and Neel Patel plan to open three stores in Austin.

“When I considered the best place to open the stores, I immediately thought of Austin,” Neel said. “Not only did I go to school there and love the area, but the Austin economy is experiencing major growth thanks to a variety of tech companies relocating to the city. Plus, Austin has one of the highest population and family-growth averages in the United States.”

While the Austin market is smaller than Houston, the Patels think there’s still a big advantage in that market. “We signed on for three units and began working with the Big Blue development team to lock down the surrounding territory so we can plan our second and third stores.”

Big Blue already has 155 committed units to develop in 22 states, and since Houston has emerged as a growing U.S. city with many families moving to the area, the time is right for Big Blue to come to the market. Additionally, Houston’s continued metropolitan development translates to opportunities for prime real estate.

“Houston offers a high percentage of prime real estate that perfectly fits our requirements to place stores on the paths of least resistance. We ensure our stores are located in places where families are already traveling so we fit right into their regular routines,” Sanders said. “We’ve already completed strategic market planning and validated the market, so we’re ready to hit the ground running, or better yet, dive right in!”

Multi-unit franchise opportunities are available for qualified candidates looking for their next big opportunity, and veterans can receive a 10 percent discount on the $80,000 franchise fee. The total investment necessary to begin operation of a new Big Blue Swim School is $2,334,223 to $3,641,998 (refer to item 7 in FDD). To learn more or inquire about Big Blue Swim School, visit

Big Blue Swim School was founded in 2009 by competitive swimmer Chris DeJong. The first location opened in Wilmette, Illinois, followed by four additional Chicagoland schools. In 2017, Level 5 Capital Partners acquired a stake in the brand, and pools are now open in Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Northern Virginia. Big Blue is currently growing through franchising with plans to have a minimum of 170 pools sold by the end of 2021. Big Blue Swim School's real estate expertise, strong brand, proprietary technology, and leadership support, coupled with its best-in-class consumer offerings, position its franchise partners for long-term success. To learn more about franchise opportunities with Big Blue Swim School, visit

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Lauren Turner
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