Tom Bradbury has been teaching kids to swim since 1957 – that’s 55 years and over 93,100 successfully trained swimmers worldwide. And he’s not finished yet! Having turned 80 last week, Tom approximates that he’ll close in on 100,000 swimmers right around the time he turns 85.
Tom’s lessons take place at hosted pools – where a family with a pool schedules time with Tom and invites other families with children older than 17 months to come for lessons with Tom. His philosophy is tough, but effective. And you can’t argue with his success! Generally after 2 days he has the children swimming half-way across the pool. At the end of the two weeks most are swimming comfortably and water-safe for life.
Sadly for our neighborhood, Tom is scaling back the geographical radius to which he’ll travel in order to teach lessons. So this week, Hancock Park and the surrounding area is hosting Tom’s swim lessons for the last time.
Tom lives in the San Diego area.* Over his 55 year teaching career he has very strategically scheduled his lessons – literally, around the world. And for at least two weeks every spring/summer, Tom dedicated time to our neighborhood and teaching children the life skill of swimming. He taught all three of my kids, plus thirteen of my nieces and nephews – all in all, he’s spent close to 30 summers in Hancock Park and taught somewhere north of 400 toddlers.
I am fascinated by Tom Bradbury. He built a career that most would envy – his office is a pool; his customers are usually between 2-5 years old. Summers in Southern California; winters in the Caribbean or where ever his word-of-mouth network would take him. And the pay is not too shabby. But Tom is unique – not just anyone has the skill set to teach the Bradbury method.
If you or your children took lessons with Tom, perhaps this quote will sound familiar…
“We’re not blowing bubbles and playing patty cake here. You showed up with a need, and I’m meeting it.” – Tom Bradbury
When my kids were taking lessons, Tom had a car that he must have been putting 300 miles a day on. When I asked him about it, he said he just wore it out. The motor was fine, but with 285,000 miles on it everything else was falling apart. I guess that’s what driving around So Cal all day in a wet towel a swim trunks will do.
*Tom lives in San Diego. In order to get to the LA area to start his day of lessons he has been getting up at 2am these past 2 weeks. I saw him at a 7:30am lesson on Norton Avenue. What a work ethic!