our story

1968 – beginnings

It was in 1968 as a school teacher at Allenstown State School that Neil’s passion for teaching swimming started under the watchful eyes of two mentors, Pat O’Shannessey and Adrien Kenny.

He began coaching swimmers before and after school every day, requiring a 20 minute nap each lunchtime in the school sickbay to keep up.

1980’s – rockhampton

After marrying, Neil and his wife Brenda went on an entrepreneurial roller-coaster ride throughout the 1980’s – operating many businesses in Rockhampton including council pools, an ice- cream shop, a bookmaking business, plant nursery, squash courts, and the ‘Planet Rollerena’ skating rink.

1991 – woodridge

After 4 years of financial difficulty and frustration, (at one point selling insurance door to door) a clear turning point occurred when one of Neil’s friends finally asked him a simple question..

“Of all the things over the years, what did you enjoy the most?”

The answer was swimming. Neil returned to swimming by leasing the Woodridge pool. It is here where he began to develop the structure of the Solo-1 program.

1994 – chandler

Successfully tendering for the Chandler pool was a big step forward as Neil could now introduce his program to the best facility in Brisbane. Not long after Brenda once again joined her husband in the business to help with operations.

In 1994 the name Aquatic Achievers Swim Schools began officially being used and the following year Aquatic Achievers was the first swim school in Australia to become quality assured (certified ISO).

2003 – sunnybank hills

Many people in the service industry say the second business location is the most difficult because owners are dividing up their talent.

This was certainly the case with the second Aquatic Achievers facility, which was built in the carpark of Sunnybank Hills Shopping Town.

Despite the long days and a slow start, Sunnybank became a thriving business in this vibrant and multi-cultural suburb of Brisbane.

2004 – aspley

With the success of Sunnybank Hills, the next Aquatic Achievers pool was also set up at a shopping center, this time on the north side of town at Aspley Hypermarket.

The Aspley swim school was an immediate success. This was attributed to a mixture of guidance sought from other experienced swim school operators and also launching with an amazing group of teachers.

2006 – gumdale

The original Gumdale pool facility was bought in 2006 and aquatic achievers lessons began in April of that year.

Major renovations took place in 2009 to produce one of Australia’s most modern facilities, designed specifically for our leading quality lesson program Solo-1.

2009 – northlakes

In 2008 the GFC was beginning to take hold and the decision to build the North Lakes pool was not a straight forward one.

Despite these business conditions, we were able to deliver an amazing facility in this high growth area.

2012 – paddington

The idea of building a pool at Paddington was conjured up in Vietnam when the question was asked – “where would Richard Branson build a swim school in Brisbane?”

Within weeks Neil had a proposal submitted to use a dilapidated basketball court at the old Marist Brothers Rosalie School and 18 months later it was the world class swim school we know today.

2016 – new sites

Due to the success of Paddington and a strong business position, a decision was made in 2015 to expand to further sites.

In February, a General Manager was hired to help guide the continued growth and innovation of Aquatic Achievers along side the Douglas Family.

It is ironic that (GM) Rob Macfarlane also hails from Rockhampton, where Neil and Brenda were originally from. This may be one of the reasons why Rob has fitted into the culture so well.

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