This past Saturday, January 5th, the Olive Park Condo pool (100 Maspeth Avenue) was the site for Aquabeba’s 2013 grand opening. Infants as young as four months splashed with chaperones through 40-minute swimming lessons in the recently converted salt water, 25-foot, 89 degree pool.
Aquabeba, formerly known as AquaDanilo, started when co-owners Danilo Krvavac and Heidi Reiss taught their 4-year-old daughter, Penelope, how to swim. Noting the lack of heated pools in Williamsburg/Greenpoint and the absence of an infant swimming school, Krvavac used his prestigious swimming background to his advantage. The former Serbian 2000 Olympic swim team participant and recipient of the 1995 Best Serbian Youth Athlete award dived in head first with the local business.
Krvavac uses a highly personal approach at Aquabeba. “It’s not just a basic swim school,” said Krvavac, “We pay attention to the individual pace of each child.” The instructor, who taught Reiss and their children how to swim in 15 minutes, keeps a progress log of every client to cater to their individual needs, and follows the latest child development studies to revamp his methods.
Reiss affirmed that “no singing is done to the kids in the pool” and “no flotation devices are used.” The only props visible on deck and on water are small toys, strategically placed to teach children how to elbow their way from the water. In the pool, kids can emulate the figurines under parental supervision at all times.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, the young clientele gets in the water by the end of their first lesson. “We find children interact better with each other” said Reiss about Aquabeba’s aged-based programs. There are eight kids, each with one parent or guardian, to a class with two instructors, one being Krvavac. He rotates with each child to teach them individually at their own pace.
The first program is the Infant Wellness Swimming (4 – 18 months old), with three levels, Starfish (4 – 12 months), Penguins (6 – 18 months) and Turtles (8 – 18 months). If a child is between 11-12 months old, he or she must take one Starfish class prior to Penguins enrollment. The second program is the Toddler Basic Swim (18 months – 4 years old), with two levels, Sea Horses (18 months – 3 years old) and Sea Lions (2 – 4 years old). In the Sea Lions program, toddlers must have completed the Sea Horses level first. Lastly, the Learn to Swim program (5+ years old) teaches students how to master basic swimming skills. Pre-natal swimming classes are also offered throughout the year with 4 to 6 women per class ranging from 12 to 40 weeks.
On average, Aquabeba has 120 to 150 kids enrolled per session (a 5-week program), with 200 new enrollment spots filled every year. In every session, at least three Starfish classes are filled to capacity or 24 infants.
The majority of Aquabeba’s clients range from four months to two and a half years old. Maggie Jonsdottir-Pei, 2 ½, has been enrolled in classes as early as four months old. Her mother, Crystal Pei, continues to enroll Maggie in swimming classes because “it’s a healthy environment” she said. Jonsdottir-Pei, of Icelandic descent, gets to embrace an element of her culture, albeit in a heated indoor swimming pool in Brooklyn. “Swimming is big in Iceland, and most of the pools are outdoors,” she explained.
In the cabana lounge that overlooks the pool, Reiss stressed the importance of the right pool temperature in their clients’ swimming performance. In comparison to the Olive Park pool, Aquabeba’s other location at the Viridian (110 Green Street), is 87 degrees Fahrenheit. “Two degrees [Fahrenheit] can make a difference” said Reiss. Krvavac and Reiss have set the temperature of the pool and lounge to compliment each other and to eliminate the rapid temperature drop often experienced by swimmers.
For these local business owners, Aquabeba was a way to “give service back to the [Williamsburg] community” where they reside with their children.
Aquabeba plans to set sail a kids water polo program in 2013. The program is currently in the developing stages for kids ages 6+.
Olive Park Condominiums
100 Maspeth Avenue
110 Green Street
(917) 757 – 3512