SwimWest updates

SwimWest will not charge you on April 1, follow our Daily Dose of Fun

You will not be charged on April 1 
If you are currently enrolled in lessons, you will not be charged on April 1. We do not have a firm re-open date at this time, but once we start up again, we will prorate fees based on the number of weeks remaining in the month. Watch your email for updates!

SwimWest Daily Dose of Fun
Do you follow us on Facebook? While we are temporarily closed, our staff will be sharing fun posts throughout the week — activities for kids (like our coloring book!) and staff adventures (including SwimWest staff and our families trying to catch a leprechaun!) Click here to download our SwimWest Water Safety Activity and Coloring Book.

We hope you can follow along! #swimwestdailydoseoffun

Our SwimWest families our in our thoughts 
Karen and our SwimWest Leadership Team want you to know that we are thinking of you and hope you can find a little (or a lot!) of joy in each day. We thank you for the kind words so many of you shared with us over the past few days. They really mean a lot to us!

SwimWest Announces Ashley Fritz as Marketing Assistant

SwimWest Announces Ashley Fritz as Marketing Assistant

SwimWest is pleased to announce the appointment of Ashley Fritz as the new marketing assistant. Ashley’s new position will continue to keep the school connected to the online swimming community. She will also be responsible for managing varying aspects of marketing and promotional efforts.

Karen Clay, SwimWest owner, said that the need for the role has been growing for quite some time. “Ashley was a natural choice,” she said. “She has been posting and managing our Facebook and Instagram accounts for quite a while now, so it’s fantastic that we can make it official.”

Ashley has been with SwimWest for over 13 years, and it was inevitable that she would continue to take a larger and larger role. A native of Wisconsin and a passionate advocate for swim safety, she takes a lot of joy in communicating the SwimWest mantra of “Swim Safe, SwimWest.”

Most SwimWest families know Ashley from her smiling face and pleasant demeanor at the front desk. After hearing of her promotion though, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to get to know a little bit more about her and her new role as marketing assistant:

Tell us about your new role. How would you describe it to someone who has no idea what you’re doing and how it affects the SwimWest families/team?

I will be working on SwimWest’s public events, managing donations for our community, connecting with fellow community businesses and, of course, posting important info on Instagram and Facebook for SwimWest and in the interest of the local swimming community.

Take us through a day in your life. What does an average day look like for you, both professionally and personally?

A typical day for me starts with waking up bright and early with my two kiddos who also happen to be early birds. My husband is a nurse at UW and typically out the door at 6 am and works a long 12 hour day. Then it’s bus stop drop off for my eldest son Roman, followed by daycare drop off for my youngest son Wes.

I live very close to SwimWest and love my morning drive into work which gets me energized for a day full of smiles, sharing fun stories with swimmers and parents, giving hand stamps, sharing important swim safety messages and stories on Facebook and Instagram, the list goes on and on!

My day at SwimWest goes by very fast with something fun always to be done or created! After reuniting with my two boys, we usually have an active afternoon running around the yard playing.

Once everyone is all worn out, we like to read books or watch family videos from our visit to Disney. Finally, the night comes to an end when they happily go to bed, with me following only minutes after.

“SwimWest is a family!”

Your new position has so many different aspects to it. What would you say is the best way to maintain a balance between the varying roles you are performing at SwimWest and maintain a life/work balance?

Because I practically grew up at SwimWest, I’m really familiar with the routine, the staff and the values we share. From doing expos on the weekends to working with the huge variety of families and coworkers that are here regularly, I’ve learned to take it all in stride. It’s an easy choice to work here because SwimWest has a fantastic family atmosphere! I am around/working with everyone from SwimWest as much as I see my own family at home! They are like family to me. It’s so nice that my kids are also able to be a part of my work environment by taking lessons and getting to know who I work with too!

Can you tell me about some of the strengths that have gotten you into marketing and how you would like to improve your skills as you settle into the position?

Being a millennial, I know a few things about social media and trends (although I feel I have much room for growth in this). I continue to try and find free time at work to learn more.

As SwimWest social media guru – Where would you like to see SwimWest go with social media?

I want to continue and further push the word of drowning prevention. Just yesterday, my nephew had an incident at daycare, and I spent the evening with my sister at the doctor’s office, making sure he was okay. At the end of the day, it shows that drowning can happen to anyone.

Tell us about your proudest moment since working at SwimWest.

I am creating connections with the families in general. I love making relationships with all of the families and the swimmers. Being a parent myself now, I feel as though I can connect and create connections from a different perspective, especially on the importance of water safety in Wisconsin.

Creating connections with SwimWest families

What has been your most challenging moment? And why?

Anytime I have had to jump in the pool. I play many roles at SwimWest! I am certified to teach, lifeguard, manage the deck and work as a customer service representative.

What is the best thing that has happened to you lately?

I wake up to my wonderful family every day and go to a job that is doing more than just teaching people how to swim – it’s changing lives by making those it touches aware of the importance of safety around water!

Do you have any pets?

We have 3! Two cats and a dog. Their names are Wrangler (dog), Bentley (black cat), Sox (“brown kitty”). Wrangler is a young but BIG dog that was a rescue from down in Texas. Sox is a girl and very shy, Bentley is a boy and loves to play/stand up to our dog Wrangler.

Anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or new position?

I love what I do. I love SwimWest and all of our staff, the message Karen stands for and our swimming community.

Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge

Karen Clay says she grew up a small farm girl and in many ways is still one deep inside. A Midwest native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, Karen never started out to make a lot of money but instead to educate people about her passion for swimming and the importance of water safety. With a love of kids and a genuine excitement for swimming, she turned her ambitions into a thriving business that has been teaching kids how to swim safely for over 29 years.


After graduating with a degree in exercise physiology and sports management in 1989, Karen saw an opportunity to own her own business with a franchise called, MacTay Aquatics. At that time, she was already teaching ‘learn to swim’ courses to pay her way through college, so the choice to start her swim school seemed a perfect fit.  She had always wanted to move to Madison and knew that it had a strong swimming community. She felt confident she could be a success there.


She decided to approach various local pools at health clubs, hotels and outdoor recreation areas for rental opportunities. That would save the cost of building a facility right away as her new company expanded. Karen admits that lots of sweat and tears went into the growing stages. Even though it wasn’t easy, saving everything during that time paid off. She was able to build her swim center within the 5-year time frame she had set for herself. Soon after, MacTay Aquatics dissolved; so, she changed the name to SwimWest Swim School, Inc. and began fresh.


The goal for Karen has always been creating a world without drownings. Her approach is to seize the opportunity during swim lessons and teach each student while they are having fun. Before the student knows it, they’ve learned stroke fundamentals and how to be safer in and around the water.


SwimWest has always set out to include the whole family unit in its teaching philosophy. Creating a family-friendly environment is crucial in the process. The school teaches from ages 4 months all the way to adults. The teaching methods change for each level of development, but along the way, they meet the needs of every swimmer where that swimmer is at the time of each lesson. Karen uses her understanding of child psychology to understand what motivates her swimmers to want to learn and improve on their skills.


At SwimWest, they strive to hire the best which is one of the secrets to the school’s success. The teaching team has been awarded locally and nationally with many outstanding swim industry awards. Of course, a love for children is a must, but Karen also looks for people who have a professional approach. Most importantly, team members must be able to communicate with not only the students but with the parents too. “With a great staff, we can promote a love of swimming and teaching children and adults always to have water safety in mind.”


As the school grows, Karen stresses that the philanthropy will continue as well.  She has always been community minded and involves the school along with encouraging the staff to be involved in many community events, charities, and fundraisers. “We strive to improve our impact locally and globally in giving to causes dear to us,” she said.


The goal of SwimWest is to be no less than the top swim school in Dane County. Another location is also in the plan. Karen’s outreach continues and her goal to increase water safety programs and expand the school’s influence in the immediate and outlying areas will only grow stronger.

SwimWest 2018 – a Year in Review

SwimWest 2018 – a Year in Review

It was a very good year

Swimwest 2018 a Year in Review

2018 was an eventful year for SwimWest students, staff and even our dolphin mascot, Finn. With end of the year fast approaching, it’s a good time to look back at some notable events that defined us in 2018.

Among the many highlights, it was a year of:


We were a very charitable group this year. Our giving community embraced a local collection of events and organizations including: Toys-for-Tots, Reach Dane County, Badger Prairie Needs Network, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, Neighbors Helping Neighbors and Gio’s Garden just to name a few.

The Dolphin

Our 2-dimensional dolphin logo came to life in 2018 as a full fledge dolphin mascot! Finn, the dolphin, made his way around our community spreading fun and water safety tips all year long, and rumor has it, he plans on traveling even farther in 2019.

Facility improvements/upgrades

A new water fountain with a water bottle filler, updated changing room area, a much-needed bike rack, new safety equipment, and the addition of more evening and daytime classes were just some of the updates at both Deming Way and Fitchburg locations this year.

Staff growth, hires, promotions and appreciations

We had several promotions and hired many new key players to our family. Our staff appreciation week brought in a huge array of complimentary notes, coloring pages and “way to go’s” for our hard-working crew from their grateful students and parents. Regular in-services for the whole team, teacher training days and industry conferences kept us focused on core values and swim safety for everyone this year.


2018 found us very active in our community. Between the Mount Horeb parade to the Police Crime Prevention Picnic in Fitchburg and the Good Neighbor Festival in Middleton along with many, many places in between, we were out and about in our area promoting community causes and healthier living through swimming.

Swim Safety

The most important thing we do at SwimWest is promoting water safety. We set out to accomplish this every day, every year. Some of the ways we achieved that goal in 2018 outside of our everyday swim lessons included: ongoing lifeguard training; weekly focus tips for our swimmers, Water Watcher promotions, Swim Safety Week/Day, CPR and First Aid demonstrations and of course emphasizing to everyone to swim safer, swim smarter, SwimWest!

See you next year!

Safety Week: meet Blue River Chiropractic!

Safety Week: meet Blue River Chiropractic!

Safety Day at Swim West is this Saturday! We are so excited to be part of this amazing community event again this year!

So some of you may be wondering about why a chiropractic office would be partnering with a swim school. Well several reasons:

  1. Swim West is an amazing business run by amazing people and we like to support and partner with amazing!
  1. Chiropractic is fantastic for injury prevention, healing different sources of pain, and maintaining proper mobility for all activities.
  1. Safety is so important for us. We see injuries on a daily basis that could have been prevented by proper education and safety precautions. We are committed to being part of that prevention process.

So what will the Blue River Chiropractic team be doing at the Swim West Safety day? Come to our booth to learn all about biking safety and injury prevention and also test your kid’s road sign knowledge. We are looking forward to meeting you!

Dive into our Swim Meets!

Dive into our Swim Meets!

Swim meets bring in the competitive aspect into swimming. SwimWest makes it a fun introduction to what swimming competitions are by encouraging the swimmers, showing them a team effort, and making them smile the entire time. Your child’s first experience will be a positive one. Here are all your need-to-knows about our swim meets!

Our swim meets are for any of our students that are in the Manatee level or above; including Swim Team! Swimmers can choose for up to two events and one relay. It is not guaranteed that they will swim that event as it depends on age, level, and availability. By choosing an event, it helps us get a good idea of what your swimmer enjoys to swim and find a similar event to the one of your swimmer’s choosing. With that in mind, here are what swimmers have to choose from:

Manatee and above:

  • 25yd
    • Backstroke
    • Breaststroke
    • Butterfly
    • Freestyle

Whale and above:

  • 50yd
    • Backstroke
    • Breaststroke
    • Butterfly
    • Freestyle
  • 100yd Freestyle
  • 200yd Freestyle
  • 100 IM
  • 200 IM

Manatee and above:

  • 100 Free Relay
  • 100 Medley Relay.

Whale and above:

  • 200 Free Relay
  • 200 Medley Relay

All of our meets are on a Saturday starting at 1 pm. Swimmers should arrive approximately a half-hour early to check-in at the front desk, get changed, and begin warm-ups which begin promptly at 12:40 pm. Make sure you bring a water bottle, a towel to have on deck, an extra pair of goggles in case a pair breaks, an extra towel for after the meet, and an extra swim cap.

There will be plenty of heat sheets posted all over the building, especially in the observation area. The coaches can help you figure out what events your swimmer will be in and when they occur. Males are even event numbers and females are odd event numbers. If helpful, you can write the event on your swimmer’s hand, or arm to help them remember which event they are in.

Once your swimmer is ready, have them find either Coach Nikki, or Coach Kyle on the pool deck. They will let them know when it is time to line up for the race. Coach Jon will announce the events and help swimmers get started properly.

And of course, swimmers will receive ribbons for each of their races!

There is only room for 65 swimmers so sign up for the next meet on-line by clicking the button below or by calling us at (608) 831-6829. See you there!