Former Northwestern swimmer Alex Tyler opens children swim schools in Chicago area

Former Northwestern swimmer Alex Tyler (WCAS '11) bought a building in St. Charles that he is currently converting into a children's swim school.

Courtesy of Alex Tyler

Former Northwestern swimmer Alex Tyler (WCAS '11) bought a building in St. Charles that he is currently converting into a children's swim school.

Adrianna Rodriguez, Reporter

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A recent graduate and former Northwestern swimmer is helping open several children’s swimming school franchises in the Chicagoland area.

Alex Tyler (WCAS ‘11), 23, is currently working to open a Goldfish Swim School location in St. Charles, Ill., about an hour away from NU’s Evanston campus. In September, he bought a building in St. Charles for the school, which is currently under construction. In the meantime, Tyler is helping with the opening of a second location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

“St. Charles is ideal because of their strong sense of pride and community focus,” Tyler said. “They put a big emphasis on getting their kids the best support.”

Tyler, who has been interested in working with the Goldfish company since his senior year at NU, began researching areas to open more franchise locations after graduating with an environmental degree from NU. Tyler led a distinguished swimming career at NU, earning two All-America honorable mentions and participating in multiple Big Ten Championship races. His senior year he ranked on NU’s top times list in seven individual events.

He first encountered Goldfish Swim School in Birmingham, Mich., where the franchise is based. Because his father worked in the building right next to Goldfish, Tyler was able to get to know the owners, Chris and Jenny McCuiston.

“They were very supportive,” Tyler said of the original owners. “They didn’t show any sign of hesitancy based on my age, even now. Any time I need to reach out to them they are there.”

Although construction has not begun yet, Tyler said he expects the St. Charles school to be up and running by June. Without any active marketing efforts, the Goldfish site has seen 70 people pre-register online for the St. Charles school within the past two months. Expecting customers, including Desiree Cortez, who has already registered her children, are already impressed with aspects of the new school.

“They’ve been great with responding (to e-mails),” Cortez said. “If their program is as good as the customer service, then I’m sure it will be a great experience.”

Goldfish’s model is to teach through positive reinforcement and “a lot of fun,” Tyler said. The 30-minute classes will be taught weekly in small groups with about a 4-to-1 child-to-instructor ratio.

Although Tyler will be mostly preoccupied with running the business, he said he also would like to be in the water teaching students. After contributing to his college expenses by teaching classes at the center, Tyler said he is excited for the school to finally open.

“The Goldfish model is all about learning how to swim for safety and fun,” Tyler said. “We don’t teach competitive swimming; we just want to make sure that kids know how to swim.”

Proximity to the school is also a bonus for customers like James Keller, who lives just down the street from the new school. He said he is also pleased with Goldfish’s customer service.

“We did receive a little goldfish stuffed animal in the mail, which our daughter loves,” Keller said. “That was a pretty nice touch.”