If We Can You Can: Above the Water

If We Can You Can: Above the Water

Above the water is a swim school which aims to help more young children learn how to swim. Founder Abaigh O’Neill has tells us more about the business and why she has entered the If We Can You Can competition.

What did you do before setting up your business?

I originally chose to become a swimming teacher to gain further work experience to help towards my ultimate goal of becoming a primary school teacher. This soon developed from part time work to full time work alongside my A levels. However, I soon developed a passion and love for this job so I decided to set up a swim school designed to make swimming fun and accessible to all. I wanted to create a safe atmosphere that is fun for all involved. 

What inspired you to set up your business?

The passion I have for teaching and the wonderful parents and children I worked alongside, who gave me a lot of encouragement to do so. Through support and encouragement from a number of wonderful parents, together we have created a Swim School that is unique and personal. I am a Swimming teacher and working towards being a Primary School teacher because I love being part of the great sense of achievement all individuals get when they achieve something new. It is such a rewarding feeling and is very important to me that everyone gets to where they want to be. The best part of my job is seeing the progression made and the big smiles of all involved!

I realised if I could set up my own swim school, I could help children develop a passion for it and most importantly help children develop confidence both in and out of the pool.

What makes this business different?

It is different because I set this swim school up to cover for the amount of children who are on ‘waiting lists’. There is a huge demand for swimming lessons as it is such an important life skill, yet not enough space for all children.

I have tried to keep the business very personal and small so that it keeps the friendly, family feeling. One example of how I do this is by having presentation/party. This is when I hire out a soft play, let children have some fun but also reward them for their hard work and dedication in their swimming lessons.

What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?

I was told about it by someone who works there who said it would be a great opportunity for someone so young who has set up a business. Once I looked into it I became very interested in being part of it.

Where do you see your business in three years’ time?

I see my business growing as I hope to accommodate a lot more children. I see us hopefully working closer with communities and schools to ensure swimming lessons are accessible to all.

What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

The most rewarding part has been when I took a step back from the teaching side and hosted the presentations. Seeing the children be proud of themselves and for all of their hard work is why I want to teach!

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was having very limited knowledge about running a business and hiring people to work for me.

Who/what gave you support or advice?

A lot of family friends helped support me and encourage me. I also got an accountant to overlook everything for me who could advise me.

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?

Go for it!! It is the hardest thing you will ever do, but definitely worth it.