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Want to meet Olympic swimming gold medalists? Here’s your chance in York County

Fort Mill SC swim school opens with Olympic medalists

Missy Franklin and Cullen Jones will help open a Fort Mill SC swim school. The Kingsley school caters to elite and beginner swimmers.
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Missy Franklin and Cullen Jones will help open a Fort Mill SC swim school. The Kingsley school caters to elite and beginner swimmers.

Sure, the O’Briens would love folks to come check out all their brand new Fort Mill swim school has to offer. But they’ll understand if people come just to see the gold medals.

“The big draw is to be able to come see two Olympic gold medalists, chat with them, take pictures,” said Leila O’Brien, who along with husband Shawn owns SafeSplash+SwimLabs Fort Mill.

The new Kingsley business opened June 8. A grand opening is June 29 and will include visits with two Team USA swimmers, Missy Franklin and Cullen Jones, who have a combined 10 Olympic medals.

“This is something that everyone — swimmers, anyone — should come to,” Leila O’Brien said.

Franklin owns five Olympic gold medals and a bronze. In the 2012 Olympics in London, she won the 100-meter and 200-meter backstrokes, the 4x200-meter freestyle and 4x100-meter medley. She took bronze in the 4x100-meter freestyle. Four years later in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Franklin won gold in the 4X200-meter freestyle.

Jones won gold in the 4x100-meter freestyle swim at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China and again in the 4x100 medley relay at the 2012 games in London. He also won silver medals in London in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and the 50-meter freestyle.

At the grand opening, Franklin will take to one of two professional-level training tanks while Jones guides her through a swim session. It won’t be the last time Jones, who doesn’t live far from the new swim school, teaches there.

“He’s eventually going to be an elite instructor at our facility,” O’Brien said.

The Olympians will talk with children about water safety. The new swim school is a combination elite training facility for high school, college and older swimmers along with pool space where young children can learn to swim.

“Fort Mill is filled with families, young kids, infants, everyone,” O’Brien said. “Swimming lessons have been proven to reduce the chance of drowning.”

O’Brien said the unique combination of beginner to top level swim instruction at her site that’s led to them being packed in the first week open. A mother of young daughters, she sees business opportunity in Fort Mill with so many people coming to the area and competitive swim programs all around, but also an opportunity to make her community better.

“Kids need to be safe, and we feel very strongly that this is going to help them get there,” O’Brien said.

Want to go?

The grand opening of SafeSplash+SwimLabs Fort Mill is 1:30-4:30 p.m. June 29 at 1309 Broadcloth St., suite 101. The event will include giveaways, snacks, face painting, balloon twisting, demos and facility tours. Details: safesplash.com.

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