Annabel Lobe has been teaching kids to swim since the 1980s, when she had her own snorkeling charter business in Hawaii. “People kept asking me if I could teach their kids how to swim, too, so I started giving lessons.” Not too long after, Lobe moved back to the Annapolis area, where she began teaching at the Key School. “In 1993 my community pool was looking for a swim instructor, so I put myself out there and started teaching swimming lessons again.
After 18 years of teaching science during the year and swim lessons during the summers, Lobe thought it would be a good time to make a change. “I was always so sad when the summer ended and the school year would start, so I thought ‘I’ll just look and see if I can do this year-round’ and Country Inns & Suites was more than happy to just take me in.”
Lobe, whose business is called Safety First Swimming, continued to teach year-round swim lessons at the Country Inns & Suites in Annapolis and outdoor summer lessons at area pools to countless kids in Anne Arundel County over the next 6 years. But two years ago, the hotel chain phased out Lobe’s private lessons and she had to come up with a new plan—for her own pool.
“It’s been a little over two years since the thought process began,” she says, “and it took a little over a year to find a location.” Getting rolling took a lot of effort, Lobe says. “The permitting process was tough because they’ve never had a private enterprise, open a pool before. But the licensing person at the health department has been great.”
Lobe’s new pool is will be much like the one her winter-swim students are used to. It’s 12-feet wide, 28-feet long and four feet deep. The fiberglass pool was built specifically for indoor use. It has a handicap ramp (great for strollers, too) and a set of stairs leading up to the four-foot-wide deck around the pool.
Lobe says the whole facility will be very child-centered. “I have two restrooms (one of which is handicapped), a shower and a changing area,” she says. Plus there will be a nice waiting room with toys and books.
The pool will be nice and warm, about 88 degrees, says Lobe, and “I have a very elaborate ventilation and dehumidification system that will keep water from accumulating in the room and in the air that will keep it nice and dry.”
The new pool also features a state-of-the-art filtration system that uses UV light as the main source of sanitation. This allows for chlorine to be used as a second source, says Lobe. “So it will severely minimize the amount of chemicals that I’ll need, which is great for everyone.”
Lobe hopes to also continue teaching summer lessons outdoors. “The kids like getting to use larger pools, the diving wells and just being outside,” she says.
The new facility is set to open January 28, 2018. She will be teaching Mommy and Me up through advanced stroke clinics in both group and private lessons.
“This has all been a great experience for me,” Lobe admits. “I love working with kids and instilling that skill. [Swimming] is such an important life-saving skill and given the right coaching, any child can learn how to swim.”
Safety First Swimming is located at 2150 Renard Court in Annapolis. safetyfirstswimming.com.