Follow your Heart: How a former Goldfish Swim Instructor turned her High School Passion into her Dream-Come-True

If there is one thing Dana Christ knows how to do, it’s swim. And also, follow her heart.

Those two things have led her to a career that she says is fulfilling, joy-filled and something she feels called to do.

Dana, who is 29, recently opened a Goldfish Swim School franchise in Park Ridge, Illinois – about 13 miles from downtown Chicago. She grew up in Birmingham, MI – home to Goldfish Swim Schools’ first location - and knew Goldfish co-founder Jenny McCuiston after working with her on technique as a swimmer at Groves High School.

Oh, and in 2006 at the age of 17, she taught swim lessons at the Birmingham location, too!

“This is such a perfect fit,” she said. “It feels right.”

After moving away from Michigan to go to college at the University of Arizona – where Dana was on the swim team all four years – she left for California to pursue an opportunity in the wine industry. While she loved her job in marketing, it just didn’t speak to her. She felt like something was missing.

She decided to “flip the switch” and make a big change. Dana loved Goldfish, and she loved swimming. Goldfish was home to her. Following her heart, she signed a franchise agreement for Park Ridge and started lease negotiations before leaving her job in California.

Why Park Ridge? Her parents were already living there.

She left her job in California and got an apartment in Chicago. While her Goldfish was being built, she worked at the location in Roscoe Village and helped an old high school friend open his franchise in Glen Ellyn, to gain as much Goldfish experience as possible and to learn more about her new home and her new colleagues.

“It just clicked one day,” she said. “I had to do something.”

She knew she was ready to share the golden experience with others.

“It really reminds me of Birmingham,” she said.

Dana has always followed her heart. Instead of enrolling at Stanford after high school, she went to Arizona instead – where she felt more at home. And in college, she switched majors from engineering – which she excelled at – to business marketing, because she felt like her heart was in it.

Even as a young child, she says she has always listened to that inner voice, and it has served her well.

She learned to swim at age 4, but like many kids, didn’t love the water. She would cry during lessons and she hated going to the pool. But at 7 or 8 years old, something changed and she found a passion.

“That’s why, like many kids at Goldfish who are upset or cry, who hate lessons, I can relate,” she said. “I’ve been that kid. But I stuck with it and I learned to love it.

The process of opening a Goldfish Swim School has been a lot of work, but Dana says she wakes up every day excited to get to do something she truly loves every day. She says she feels lucky that she gets to do something that truly speaks to her and feels like her calling. It’s really something to celebrate!

“I missed swimming,” she said. “I missed teaching. This is such a perfect fit. It sounds cheesy, but I just love it so much.”

The best part? The relationships she is building with Goldfish families – and the growth and confidence she sees in her swimmers as they learn to swim and develop their skills. Goldfish instructors use integrity, compassion and trust to help even the most reluctant swimmer learn to swim.

“It makes me so happy to see families enjoying this experience,” she said.

Recently, Dana moved to Park Ridge and is engaged to be married. Her fiancé Alex is in the tech field but enjoys coming to Goldfish to help out.

She is excited for her future and looking forward to the extraordinary results of a long career in swimming.

“I love being in the community. I love being a part of the community. I am just so lucky.”

Goldfish Swim School Franchising is lucky and delighted to have Dana, as well as all of our amazing owners, as part of our family!

Are you ready to follow your heart and become a Goldfish Swim School franchise owner? We are always looking for energetic, positive and passionate people. If you are committed to helping children become safer in and around water, learn more here.

Goldfish Swim School

Come experience our WOW! Customer service for yourself. We have locations all over the U.S. There is sure to be one near you. We teach babies as young as 4 months old how to swim and we host family open swim times so you and your little fish can have fun splish-splashing around!

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