Getting their feet wet

Opening Reno's first indoor swim school isn't an exercise for the faint of heart.

In fact, says Katie Reding-Hall with only a tiny nod to the obvious play on words, you pretty much need to jump right in.

Hall, who with her husband, Tim Hall, this week opens Silver Bear Swim School at 8755 Technology Way in the South Meadows neighborhood, took the plunge.

The centerpiece of the 6,000-square-foot school is a 35- by 45-foot pool a tenant improvement that would give many a landlord pause before signing a lease.

Instead of facing those questions from a landlord, the school's owners purchased two units in the Alimar Development Corp. project.

Their decision to buy early construction hadn't started on the project when they inked the papers paid off as the building was engineered from the start to support a swimming pool.

Still, says Alimar President Len Marsh, "It was a leap of faith. That's a special-use facility."

The leap appears to be paying off for Reding-Hall, a one-time captain of the University of California swim team whose dream created Silver Bear Swim School.

The school's first classes are nearly filled as Silver Bear opens its doors, even though the school is opening during the season that private and public outdoor pools offer a busy schedule of lessons.

Reding-Hall says the mom-network the word of mouth that spreads from one play group to another generated much of the school's enrollment. A few flyers in a pediatric office and a Web site supported the informal buzz.

The center's pitch to parental decisionmakers: Its facility is designed exclusively for teaching. No lap swimmers chopping up the water nearby. Classes are available for kids as young as 6 months. The highly structured curriculum reflects the thinking of Hall and her friends who run swim centers throughout the country.

In selecting the school's staff of 15 full- and part-time employees, Reding-Hall says, "I was looking for people who are great with students."

The couple spent more than a year putting the swim school together, working around the needs of an infant son born just as they got serious.

The baby provided some additional motivation to get the job done.

"We see so much need for kid-oriented things in the area," Reding-Hall says. "We want to be part of that."


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