ATLANTA, April 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Retail services and technology executives announced the launch of Level 5 Capital Partners («Level 5»), an investment fund focused on scaled local services, with an initial investment in Big Blue Swim School («Big Blue»), a dedicated-facility swim school. The transaction provides growth capital and management expertise for significant location and regional expansion as well as ongoing investment in Big Blue’s digitally enabled advantages.

«Big Blue Swim School has been laser focused on creating the best experience for teaching kids how to swim,» said  John Lonegran, CEO of Big Blue. «We have built a dedicated-facilities and instructional model that works – kids and parents love our facilities, teachers, curriculum, and flexible scheduling, and they have fun learning and improving their swimming skills.  Our next phase is to repeat our model and expand our schools to reach additional communities, and Level 5 Capital Partners bring us the capital and expertise we need to drive scale and growth.»

«We are looking forward to growing Big Blue Swim School to 21 locations by 2021,» said Chris Kenny, Founding Partner of Level 5 Capital Partners.  «To do this, we will leverage the team and operating platform we have built, which enabled us to scale to 27 locations in 4 states and become the 3rd largest yoga studio operator in the US.  Parents across the country want to teach their children to swim, and Big Blue Swim School offers them a highly-differentiated model focused on facilities, quality of instruction, safety and technology.  We’re excited to take Big Blue to the next level.»

«Level 5 brings expertise and capital to exceptional entrepreneurs,» says Charles Meyers, Founding Partner of Level 5 Capital Partners and Chief Operating Officer of Equinix.  Describing Level 5’s plan for growing their investment portfolio, Charles explains, «Level 5 looks to identify opportunities where we can drive rapid growth and scale in local services, with a focus on the health, wellness and family markets.»

Level 5 is bringing two seasoned executives to the partnership:  Michael Chin, VP of Real Estate and New Markets for Level 4 Yoga, will lead the Big Blue Swim School market planning, expansion strategy and execution, and together with Big Blue Founder Chris DeJong, will manage the facility openings and new market growth.  Sara Otepka joins from, where she has spent more than a decade leading marketing, US and international launch and expansion, and product development and management for Kindle, Echo, Mobile Shopping Apps and Prime Now.  Sara is a Founding Partner at Level 5 and will drive new customer and lesson growth for Big Blue Swim Schools as the Chief Marketing Officer. 

Sara Otepka explains the unique investments the partnership will leverage: «Big Blue has made substantial investments in its scheduling and progress-indicating technology that makes swim lessons more efficient – clear and faster results for kids – and convenient – no hassle scheduling for parents.  With this partnership, Big Blue will leverage Level 5’s centralized digital investments in marketing, social media, mobile-app based referral programs, and analytics that scale effectively to local markets.  We’re excited to reach new communities and parents to tell the exciting Big Blue story.»

About Big Blue Swim Schools
Big Blue Swim School was founded in 2010 by competitive swimmers, Big Ten finalist John Lonegran and US National Champion Chris DeJong. Their mission has been to enrich the lives of kids and parents through a shared love of swimming.  Big Blue has two profitable locations in the Chicago suburbs of Wilmette and Buffalo Grove, and one school opened in January in Niles.  Big Blue’s strategic investments in operations and technology – focusing on teachers, facilities, curriculum and flexible scheduling – have uniquely positioned them to create the leading swim school experience in the Chicago-area.

About Level 5 Capital Partners
Level 5 Capital Partners was founded in 2009 by Fortune 1000 retail services and technology executives to invest in high-end wellness and lifestyle offerings with a focus on yoga.  The Level 5 team expanded an investment to build one Core Power Yoga studio into the third largest national yoga studio operator in less than a decade.  Level 5 developed scalable local market expertise by investing in our people and a centralized operating platform, which we seek to leverage for our portfolio of Level 5 companies and concepts.   

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SOURCE Level 5 Capital Partners, Big Blue Swim School