Ashley Yates, owner of the British Swim School of Cypress-Spring, is a former Cy-Fair elementary school science teacher, but she began looking for an education-related business opportunity that would allow her to be more independent and more involved in the community.

She discovered British Swim School and was drawn to its mission of water safety for children. Although she did not have a background in swim training, she said she felt like when children were taught to swim, it would empower them to be safe and confident around water.

“My passion is working with children and families. But I wanted to own my own business and do something that could really impact the community on a large scale,” Yates said.

This opportunity was ideal as it combined all the benefits of a franchise operation with the use of existing spaces, Yates said. The company partners with large fitness facilities such as LA Fitness with a pool temperature of 82 to 84 degrees, an ideal environment for small children as the youngest group of students is ages 1-4.

Yates' first location opened in Cypress in 2022, and the second one opened in Spring earlier this year. Her locations have served about 200 families so far with the same curriculum as the organization's founder.

Drowning prevention was the primary mission of the founder of British Swim School, Rita Goldberg, who started the school in her home in 1981 in Manchester, England. The school’s mantra remains “Survival of the Littlest.”

Yates, a native Texan, said when she is asked how the school got its name, she jokes that “it's because we always stop class for high tea.” Today, the school stays on brand as the students wear life preservers decorated with the flag of the U.K.

“The name remains the same because we carry on her same curriculum, but we've added a few things over the years as COVID[-19] brought about the need for an adult program,” she said. “And then just recently we launched a young adult program that's geared toward teens who are not quite ready for class within adults. So it's a good in-between.”

All instruction is one on one, and the core mission is still to teach students water survival. Group sing-alongs are often used to help calm down and relax the children so they can learn. She explained they first teach the students to get comfortable in the water, floating and treading water before moving on to swim strokes, such as freestyle, backstroke, and eventually butterfly and breaststroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates May as National Water Safety Month. See swimming statistics and safety tips below to stay safe this summer.
  • Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1-4 in the U.S. and claims the lives of over 3,900 people every year.
  • Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause except birth defects, and for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
  • Designate an adult to be responsible for keeping their eyes on all children in the water and be free of all distractions, and switch off to another adult every 15 minutes to avoid attention fatigue.
  • Ensure fencing around pools is at least 5 feet tall with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Make sure doors and windows to the pool are always locked and alarmed.