SINGAPORE - Through swimming, Joseph Schooling became water-safe, confident, and an Olympic champion.
Now, the 23-year-old Singaporean wants to "empower" children the same way he benefited from the sport, with the launch of Swim Schooling, his new swim school, on Wednesday (June 27).
The academy, in collaboration with a UK-based company, has formulated an eight-stage development programme that teaches children aged three to 11 skills from water confidence, life-saving, to foundational skills of competitive swimming for the advanced trainees.
"Now that I've turned professional and have more time, and we have our vision, it is the right time to start the school," said the 100m butterfly Olympic champion at the school's launch at Our Tampines Hub (OTH).
"We have a very solid structure with eight levels: the first level is for kids who are not very comfortable with water... whereas those in level eight are comfortable swimmers, and will be working a lot more on things like technique and race strategy."
Lessons will start in Tampines on July 2 with two instructors and class sizes of six students per instructor. Each stage consists of a 10-week, once-weekly, 30-minute session, and also includes parent feedback time and an awards scheme to celebrate milestones.
While he will not be involved in the day-to-day coaching of the trainees, he promised to spend as much time as possible with them.
"First and foremost, my priority is my training, towards the Asian Games, the Worlds next year and Tokyo (Olympics in 2020)," said Schooling, who had a 30-minute session with eight children on Wednesday.
"But I will try to be here as much as I can to see the kids and get in the water with them. Watching them happy and comfortable in the water, it really is a nice feeling inside."
Fion Koh, whose sons Wei Hong and Wei Ke were among the eight on Wednesday, has already enrolled her children in Swim Schooling.
The 34-year-old homemaker said: "I was looking for swimming lessons online when I chanced upon Swim Schooling's Facebook page. My kids are the outdoor kind and love swimming, and he (Schooling) is a champion swimmer, so I suppose it's right to follow his methods."
While there are other learn-to-swim programmes, Schooling is confident that his new venture will succeed.
He said: "I am confident of what we have and what we are bringing to the table. At the end of the day, it's all about empowering kids to achieve their aquatic dreams."