Longtime elite swimming coaches Gilbert and Karol Legaspi decided to take a leap of faith in 2016 and purchase land off Airport Boulevard. They were determined to build a state-of-the-art swim facility where swimmers from babies to elite adults could learn how to swim or get coached practice.
The result was a 75,000-square-foot facility that features heated indoor and heated outdoor competition-level pools at the Swim Houston Aquatic Center. SHAC is located at 8454 W. Airport in the Brays Oaks Management District.
Owner and Coach Karol Legaspi has been a swim coach for almost 25 years. She has been a certified USA Swimming Swim Coach since 1998 and is a lifetime member of the American Swimming Coaches Association.
Because of her expertise in advanced swim technique, Coach Karol is sought after for her private coaching sessions. She has guided swimmers who became state competition qualifiers, many whom go on to become finalists or winners at the Texas Age Group Swimming Championship.
Her husband, Head Coach and owner Gilbert Lagaspi, has been coaching under USA Swimming for almost 30 years. He is involved in the governance of the sport at the national and regional levels through USA Swimming and Gulf Swimming. He, too, has led many of his students to elite championship meets, including Junior Nationals, Nationals, and Olympic Trials.
His students go on to complete at the college level in prestigious swim programs throughout the country. In 2015, Coach Gilbert was awarded Gulf Swimming’s Head Coach of the Year Award.
Making this facility a family affair, both of Coach Karol’s children, Karen Seymour and Tony Cisneros, who swam competitively, are the co-aquatics directors and swim instructors at Swim Houston.
They just celebrated their five year anniversary. The business hit a lot of rough waters in that span of time.
Shortly after opening, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. Swim lessons were not a priority during the aftermath as their clients had other priorities. They survived by keeping the business open with merely a staff of family members while they slowly built back their business by visiting schools and doing some marketing.
The Covid-19 era, too, was a great challenge as they had to discontinue group swim lessons — and once again, enrollment dropped.
“We got by in doing private lessons,” Seymour said. “We had to rebuild again.”
Now enrollment is steady and climbing at 648 students and they have a larger staff roster. Their schedule is full with indoor lessons starting at 9 a.m. every half hour to 7 p.m.
They offer a huge assortment of instructional swimming lessons for infants, children and adults. All coaches and instructors are trained in CPR and coach safety certified by USA swimming.
Children 9 months to 3 years old get one-on-one lessons where they are taught water safety. From age 4 they start learning freestyle and backstroke. This includes learning breathing techniques and rolling over from back to front.
“It is so rewarding to watch babies save themselves,” Seymour said. “It is a lot of fun to see their development and watch them grow up and progress in their swimming. Parents come up to me and I hear great stories of what the children are doing in the pool.”
While hosting a club USA swim team that practices six times a week, the staff hosts swim meets at the outdoor pool. Club teams from Kingwood and Friendswood come to them to practice. Meets to prepare for Olympic trials will be going on for the next couple of years.
The facility pools are also available for those who want to swim laps.
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— by Arlene Nisson Lassin