Summary backgrounder

Water Babies at a glance

Water Babies has an outstanding reputation as the world’s biggest, most professional baby and toddler swimming programme, welcoming over 50,000 children (and their parents/carers) into warm water at around 560 local pools every week.

Our swimming lessons progressively develop children’s water skills in line with their physical, mental and emotional development phases. Learning to get to the side, hold on or swim from a young age has saved several Water Babies’ lives after they have fallen into water elsewhere.

Water Babies also offers world-class, once-in-a-lifetime high-resolution photography of babies and toddlers swimming underwater, and an online shop featuring delightful, practical swimming accessories.

Key facts

Co-founder Paul Thompson
Date founded 2002
Countries where present UK, Ireland, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, China
Children currently learning 50,000
Teachers 350
Local pools used 560
Pool temperature 30 degrees C (32 degrees if under 12 weeks)
Class sizes 6-10 children
Age babies start swimming From birth
Babies hold on at the edge by 5 months (usually)
Toddlers swim short distances by 2 years (usually)
Underwater photos taken each year Over 100,000
Each underwater studio kit worth £15,000+
National awards WO4LO Best Swimming Class (2008)
  BFA Franchisee of the Year 2009 - silver (Tamsin Brewis)
  Tommy’s Best Children’s Activity Provider (2009)
  WO4LO Best National Baby & Toddler Development Activity (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014,2015)
  Tommy's Community Diamond Award (2012)
  EWIF Woman Franchisee of the Year 2012 (Kate Evans)
  Best Mid-Sized Franchisor 2012 Smith Henderson

BFA Franchisor of the Year 2013 (Silver)

SME regional winner for the South West & Wales HSBC Global Connections (2014)

WO4LO Best National Pre-Schooler Development Activity (2014, 2017)

WO4LO Most Outstanding Activity Leader, South 2014 (Wes Nisbet)

WO4LO Most Outstanding Activity Leader, East 2014 (Michelle Freeman)

WO4LO Highly Commended for the Most Outstanding Acitivty Leader for Under 5s (Highly Commended) N Ireland & Scotland 2014 (Wendy Lambie)

Highly Commended in the Shropshire Businesses for Children Awards 2014 (Shropshire Midwest)

HSBC Global Connections South West and Wales Regional winners (2014)

BFA HSBC Franchisor of the year Finalist (2014)

Employer of the Year - Devon Venus Awards 2015

Tommy's Million Pound Milestone Award 2016

Investors in People Silver accreditation (2016)

WO4LO Highly Commended Most Outstanding Activity Leader, South 2016 (Wes Nisbet)

WO4LO Highly Commended Best National Pre-school Development Activity Award 2016

BFA HSBC Franchisor of the Year winner 2016 (Gold)

Investors in People Gold accreditation (2017)

BFA HSBC Female Franchisee of the Year winner 2017 (Tamsin Brewis)


Amount raised for Tommy’s £3.2 million (biggest corporate supporter)
Unique points

Only baby swimming teachers who can obtain the national governing body's highest teaching qualification for under 5s

  Only baby swimming school with its own pool consultancy service