Aqua-Tots has temporarily closed its operations due to COVID-19. However, through Round Rock Cares, Neillie said, he has renewed hope that his business will be greeted by the sounds of laughter once again.
In an effort to support local businesses struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Round Rock Cares—a fund organized by the city of Round Rock, the Round Rock Chamber, the Greater Round Rock Community Foundation and Dell Technologies—launched March 25. Aqua-Tots was among more than 80 recipients of the fund.
“We were so pleased. We’ve been a part of the Round Rock community for nine years,” Neillie said. “Just to be recognized as an important contributor to the Round Rock community—we teach tens of thousands of little kids to swim in our little swim school there. It just felt right.”
Neillie and his wife, Lynn, own four Aqua-Tots locations in Texas: Round Rock, Cedar Park, San Antonio and Mansfield. Aqua-Tots was founded in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1991 by Ron and Jane Sciarro. While living in Phoenix, Neillie said his daughter, Drew, was one of the first Aqua-Tots swim lesson recipients.
It was the joy Drew had for swimming that inspired the Neillies to establish the first Texas location in Round Rock. So much of what has kept his business afloat, he said, has been the spirit of the Round Rock community. That same sentiment has been amplified tenfold by Round Rock Cares, Neillie added.
As a recipient of Round Rock Cares, Neillie said Aqua-Tots has had a month’s worth of utilities covered to help maintain its financial security while temporarily closed. While Neillie has also navigated applying for the Small Business Association’s coronavirus funding, he said the efforts displayed by Round Rock Cares lead by example.
“To my knowledge, this foundation was one of the first local community efforts across the country that really made a difference for small businesses locally,” Neillie said. “We love being a part of Round Rock and this was such a great snapshot of what makes Round Rock a wonderful place to have a small business.”
The fund’s efforts—paired with well wishes from his swim families, Neillie added—have inspired him and his wife during the coronavirus pandemic. The thing he looks forward to most following the coronavirus outbreak, he said, is simple: He is counting the days until he hears the laughter and feels the palpable energy of new and seasoned children swimmers alike once again.
“Everybody is in this together, and everybody is committed to supporting one another and supporting small businesses, and we have definitely felt that support from our Round Rock families,” Neillie said.