La Petite Baleen Swim Schools just won a Totally Awesome Award for Most Awesome Splashing Swimming Class in San Francisco. We recently spoke to owner, Irene Madrid, about her experience as a business owner, the best advice she has ever received and more. Hear what she had to say below!

La Petite Baleen Swim Schools
Red Tricycle: Your community recently voted you “Most Awesome Splashing Swimming Class” – what do your customers value most about your business?
Irene Madrid: Our customers realize that our child developmental and compassionately layered curriculum , and our educated and enthusiastic staff create a wonderful , happy environment for learning to swim at La Petite Baleen.

RT: What do you want people to know about your business that they don’t already know?
IM: We not only want our swim families to get high quality lessons, but we see our swim families—and our employees— as a village, and we very much care about everyone as a whole person.

RT: How did your business get started and what was the motivation?
IM: I grew up with infant swim and a backyard pool starting in 1949 and thought everyone swam daily. I always believed I’d have a swim school some day and having three babies in four and half years pushed me to give up my physical education,and coaching positions and put into use all the child development information I had been tucking away for many years. John Kolbisen and I built a an indoor pool in our backyard and our business exploded.

RT: Tell us, what do you start your morning with: 1. coffee 2. tea 3. mimosa 4. water 5. all of the above.
IM: I start my morning first with water and eventually, coffee.

RT: What is the most awesome thing a customer has ever done for you?
IM: The most wonderful thing a customer has done is to come back to La Petite Baleen as an employee and we have quite a few who have remained part of the La Petite Baleen family.

RT: What is your biggest pet peeve as a business owner?
IM: I wish some parents would read more on child development and trust/recognize that we know how to have every child not only become a great swimmer, but someone who has developed great life skills from La Petite Baleen.

RT: How do you keep your stress levels down?
IM: We are a nation of shallow breathers. Deep breathing immediately de-stresses the body….and swimming is the only real fountain of youth that way. When I swim I instantly lower my blood pressure by just being immersed BUT when I am stroking, I see, hear and feel that strong deep breath which is so meditative.I just wish more adults would learn to swim..or to swim better, so they can swim continuously for their life long benefit.

RT: What’s your secret superhero power as a business owner?
IM: We are all ONE in this world and we dearly LOVE all our children and want the best for them. So, even when I deal with a difficult situation, I remember that deep down, we are all about our friends and family and are very human together.

RT: Tell us, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (as a parent or business owner)?
IM: “To Thine Own Self Be True” as Shakespeare stated.

RT: How about the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
IM: “It’s just words.” NOT TRUE! Words are powerful and stories are powerful.

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
IM: Enjoy a free trial lesson and $40 off your first mont of enrollment. Infants 2-5 months swim for free!


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Photo credit: La Petite Baleen Swim Schools