With Saf-T-Swim splash, big fish dives into LI waters

Water world: Longtime regional swim-school network Saf-T-Swim has pooled its resources with a new parent company.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A longtime Long Island swimming school dedicated to teaching people to love and respect the water also loves and respects a good deal.

And so Deer Park-based Saf-T-Swim, founded in 1984 and now operating 13 instructional locations across Long Island, has been acquired by Streamline Brands, a global franchiser and North America’s largest swim-school manager.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But the acquisition, announced Thursday, sees Saf-T-Swim’s six Nassau County and seven Suffolk County locations dive into a pool already swimming with some of the biggest national names in water welfare, such as SafeSplash and SwimLabs, among others.

All told: 230 Streamline Brands locations in 22 states, Mexico and Turkey (including its new Long Island schools), with more to come. The Denver-based conglomerate calculates a $17 billion worldwide swim-safety industry that’s only getting bigger, and is therefore soaking up as much of the market as possible, with an “aggressive growth goal” of 300 international locations by 2020.

For now, the company is satisfied to scoop up Saf-T-Swim and strengthen its “dominant position in the New York market,” with CEO Matthew Lane welcoming “a team of professionals that has provided world-class service to the families of New York.”

“We were impressed with their quality of service, passion and dedication to their craft immediately after meeting the team,” Lane said.

Matthew Lane: The water’s fine.

Far from signaling the end of Saf-T-Swim on Long Island, the takeover reinforces the local brand’s regional position, according to Saf-T-Swim founder and President Jim Hazen, who said his 1984 startup is here to stay.

“This partnership ensures the Saf-T-Swim program will continue to serve the families on Long Island for decades to come,” Hazen said Thursday. “Joining the industry’s leading management team … enhances our ability to deliver personalized, fun swimming instructions to more kids and adults and keep them safe in the water.”

It should also bolster the efforts of EndDrowningNow.org, a water safety-focused nonprofit – packed with tips, links to lessons and other important swimming and boating resources – sponsored by Saf-T-Swim, the global 501(c)3 Stop Drowning Now and a host of other Long Island-based businesses and charities.

According to Lane, that sort of community involvement – on top of its exceptional reputation for safety and education – made Saf-T-Swim an ideal fit for Streamline Brands, already the official swim-school provider for USA Swimming, a 400,000-member service organization and the official U.S. governing body for the sport.

“Saf-T-Swim’s dominant position in the market and focus on water safety, drowning prevention and deep personal instruction for children … aligns perfectly with the type of service we provide,” the CEO added. “We are delighted to have Saf-T-Swim join our brand family.”

And Saf-T-Swim is delighted to dip its toes into the circa-2005 Colorado company’s deep end, according to Hazen, who trumpeted a winning Streamline Brands franchise model that includes total back-office backing, extensive franchisee training and other key business-development support programs.

“Streamline Brands has established a longstanding reputation and track record for exceptional customer service, quality and franchisee support,” Hazen said.