Salem Gymnastics Sports Center to Add Learn-To-Swim Program
Salem Gymnastics Sports Center is expanding its facility on Country Club Road with a new learn-to-swim program.
Owners Beth Morphis, her husband, Kenny Morphis, and her father, Frank Minter, broke ground Tuesday on Salem Swim. The new facility will add about 5,000 square feet to the existing 26,000-square-foot building at 4870 Country Club Road.
Beth Morphis said the new program has been a longtime dream for them.
For thirty-five years, Salem has taught the joy of movement to thousands of children in the Winston-Salem area through gymnastics, dance, martial arts,and more,” she said. “The addition of a learn-to-swim program is a natural fit for our company and one that we hope will be an asset to the community. – Beth Morphis, Co-Owner, Salem Gymnastics & Swim
She said gymnastics and swimming “dovetail together really well,” and the swim school industry has boomed over the past decade throughout the nation, including strong programs in Charlotte and Raleigh.
Gymnastics has been Salem Gymnastics Sports Center’s cornerstone for years. Frank Minter and his former wife, Barbara Haas, started the center as Salem Gymnastics Center on Margaret Street in 1980.
In 2001, the business moved to its current location and its name changed to Salem Gymnastics Sports Center. The center employs 30 people; 10 work full time. Membership has climbed over the years and remains steady at about 1,600.
Salem Swim is designed to teach young children, starting at six months old with a parent, how to swim. Features will include two 4-foot deep warm water pools, warm air, shower, changing rooms, and a parent viewing area.
“It has some benches that are built in about a foot down so kids will have a place to sit waiting their turns,” Kenny Morphis said. “There are also some platform systems that we’ll use in teaching.”
The larger of the two pools will be 25 feet by 50 feet and will be divided into different learning stations. The smaller pool, 15 feet by 25 feet, will be designed specifically for parent and child lessons.
Kenny Morphis said that eventually they will offer some basic stroke instruction such as the backstroke and butterfly, but the program will be entirely non-competitive.
He also said people of all ages, even adults, who want to learn to swim are welcome at Salem Swim, which is scheduled to open this summer.
Everyone needs to know how to swim. It’s a key life skill, not only for the safety aspects, but swimming is an all-around great exercise for young and old. – Kenny Morphis, Co-Owner, Salem Gymnastics & Swim
Kenny and Beth Morphis and Minter said they put years of research into the design of the facility and curriculum by visiting swim schools in North Carolina and Florida, attending the U.S. Swim School Association’s national convention and consulting with industry leaders. Salem Swim is a member of the U.S. Swim School Association and the Safer 3 Water Safety Foundation.
The co-owners have hired Mike Wood, who previously worked for several different swim-school companies in Minnesota, as their aquatics director.
They expect to hire additional employees for the new program in the spring. Fees have not been determined.
Salem Swim will be connected to the existing Salem Gymnastics building but will be separate and sound-proofed from the existing building.
“The facility itself will have excellent viewing from our existing lobby, but it will also have windows that over look the woods and the pond (on the property),” Beth Morphis said.
Sue Mackie, executive director of the U.S. Swim School Association based in Fountain Hills, Ariz., said the swimming industry is growing.
“A lot of people are finding that it’s a great business to be involved with,” Mackie said. “When you teach children to swim, you’re giving them something that’s going to be life-saving potentially for their whole lives.”
She said she has found that some children’s activity centers that offer such programs as gymnastics and karate “are now finding that swim is another good thing that will complement their facility. Again, it’s being able to teach that skill that’s potentially going to save a life.”
Visit our Learn-To-Swim Program page for more information!