Swim instructor from backyard to big business
Gone are the days when more than 1,500 children and their parents traipse through Steve Wallen’s home each summer. The Folsom resident, who has provided swim lessons from his backyard pool for more than 18 years, opened a new state-of-the-art indoor facility in El Dorado Hills. “It costs a lot of money, and it’s kind of scary, but I did it,” Wallen said. “And I hope to never have to do it again.” Wallen has come a long way since booking his first paying customer nearly two decades ago, charging $30 for eight one-on-one lessons. “After college, I began coaching swim teams for kids and adults,” Wallen said. “That turned into teaching kids in my pool, and pretty soon I had my own year-round swim program.” The business, which originated from basic lessons given to Wallen’s friends and family, expanded strictly through word of mouth. “Running it in our backyard became a stressful environment because of so many people in our home,” said Kaleb Wallen, Steve’s son. “And the business was expanded to meet demand.” The business entrepreneurs had several hoops to jump through before constructing an indoor heated pool: being approved by the county, obtaining all the required permits, and following strict guidelines, all after finally finding a building where they could install the pool. “It was a hard process,” Steve said.