Making a Splash (Safely)
Olympic swimmer Davis Tarwater and his team at SafeSplash Swim School share the joy of the water with East Tennessee and beyond
Swimming hasn’t always been a critical pillar in the life of Davis Tarwater. In fact, he was six when he first learned to swim. But, from that point forward, it was his driving passion. After an almost 20-year career in the sport of swimming, his hard work and dedication paid off by winning Gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games as part of the 4×200 freestyle relay. And while his time as an athlete may have ended, his passion for the water is as fiery as ever, even though it is taking on a new form at SafeSplash Swim School.
Rechanneling that passion has been a huge blessing for Davis and his team. “Seeing kids learning to love the water, taking pride in their progress and learning safety skills brings us all so much joy.” However, it’s the safety piece that must be the first goal of every swimmer —to learn the life-saving skills of surviving the water—and teaching those skills to kids as early as six months old is his goal at SafeSplash Swim School.
Davis opened his first SafeSplash lo-cation in 2019 with the help of manager Emily Morgan. Back then, they gave lessons in a hotel pool in Cedar Bluff. Today, Davis has three locations with a fourth soon to open.
“Having two children of my own—three and one years old—who are both students here has really brought home the gravity of the mission we have here, which is a life-saving skill,” Davis says.
Water safety is at the heart of the school’s lessons. Davis, Emily, and all the SafeSplash instructors emphasize this on the daily. Even if your child doesn’t” dream of an Olympic gold medal, being able to navigate the water safely is a key skill that almost everyone will encounter at some point in their lives. SafeSplash gives the opportunity for children to become comfortable in the water early, working with highly-trained instructors through multiple levels of classes to make sure they get the skills they need to be safe and happy in the water.
“We are a swimmer-initiated submersion program, meaning that we don’t force submersion,” Emily says. “We want to make sure that we’re challenging the kiddos, but, we’re doing it in a way that they’re able to be ready for that big leap. We have a really curated curriculum.”
Maintaining the relationship between teacher and student over time is key to the learning process, which is why SafeSplash is dedicated to consistency and personal connection in instruction. They make sure they pair each student with an instructor whose personality and skills work best for each student, and often they are able to keep that student and instructor together throughout the student’s entire journey. They also limit their normal group sessions to three students per instructor, making sure each student gets individualized attention to meet their personal goals.
“We take a lot of pride in our staff, and our staff takes a lot of pride in teaching great lessons,” Davis says. Each day, you can find a SafeSplash instructor in the pool with their students, giving them the tools they need to thrive in the water. But there are plenty of services they can of-fer adults, too. SafeSplash also features SwimLabs, which provide video analysis for competitive and recreational swimmers of all ages to improve their skills.
Everyone has a place in the water, and SafeSplash is here to make that happen, whether you’re 6 months old or 60 years old, a new swimmer or an Olympic athlete.
Gold Winner : Swim Lessons
865-263-1800 120 North Peters Road Knoxville, TN 37923 safesplash.com