Blue Swim School

Chris DeJong – A Story of how When One Door Closes, a Window Opens

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Chris DeJong, founder of Big Blue Swim School, was ranked 4th in the U.S. and 5th in the world in the backstroke as a swimmer at the University of Michigan. Sharing the same coach as swimming legend Michael Phelps, in qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, DeJong lost to Phelps and missed becoming an Olympian by just four-tenths of a second.

However, missing his Olympic dream by less than half a second though fueled DeJong to found what would become Big Blue Swim School in 2009 along with John Lonergan, a Big Ten all-academic swimmer at the University of Iowa. Starting as a standalone school in Wilmette, Illinois, Big Blue Swim School grew from 600 to 2,200 families essentially overnight – leading the partners to open new locations throughout Illinois through 2017. In 2017, Level 5 Capital Partners invested in Big Blue, acquiring a majority stake, and set forth the company’s growth strategy through the franchise model. The company expects to have 45 new locations by the end of 2019 and 150 locations by 2020 in markets like Florida, Texas, Southern California, Denver, Charlotte, Northern New Jersey, Georgia and Washington, D.C. Even Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts is a believer – joining the Big Blue Swim School board.

Tom Scarda