A Sunderland swimming school is doing far more than keeping its head above water as it closes in on welcoming its 600thswimmer.

“in at the deep end”this year celebrates its 10thanniversary with the launch of a state of the art website, that will improve swimmer sign-ups, payment and retention.

Director Mark McNichol, who along with fellow director Kim Cain, started the venture a decade ago as a student, is aiming to grow the school and eventually supply high quality swimming coaching across the entire region.

“Swimming and learning to swim is so important for young people,” said Mark. “It’s a sport that can save your life, so as well as being coaches, we are vocal advocates for the need for everyone to learn the basics.

“For ten years we have built up in at the deep end with the firm belief that we are not necessarily training people for the Olympic Games, we’re providing a skill that could get them fit, enjoying themselves and ultimately, that could help save lives.”

The new website www.inatthedeepend.comallows would-be swimmers and parents to enrol, pay and keep abreast of all updates from the swim club, which is based in Sunderland and South Tyneside and now employs 12 people.

“We wanted to make the whole process as easy, accessible and autonomous as possible and give the people and parents control of when they swim and where they swim, while also being able to keep track of payments themselves, without us having to send reminders,” added Mark, who runs in at the deep end alongside his job as a special needs teacher in Sunderland.

“We have grown from a handful of students in 2008, to approaching 600, operating out of Castle View Enterprise Academy and Thornhill Academy. Growing the company to this stage has been a fantastic experience and involved a lot of hard work, but we really had to look at improving our online business to help cope with demand and also help us prepare for future growth.”

With lessons for parents with babies as young as three to four months, to adult sessions, in at the deep end has a wide client base, and with lessons starting at just £4 for half an hour tuition, it is also one of the most cost efficient swim schools in the region.

Mark said: “We receive a third of our income via direct debit – less than two years ago, this wasn’t even a consideration. in at the deep end is an evolving beast and now with the site in place I would love to expand the business further across Sunderland and beyond.”

The new website has been developed by South Tyneside website designers and developers, ITC, and has also received support from the regional tech scene, notably Sunderland Software City, an organisation dedicated to enabling growth in the tech sector.

Software City Business Support Specialist, Jeni Banks, said: “It’s great to see companies like in at the deep end recognising how improving their online offer can not only help improve current customer experience, but also prepare the launchpad for further expansion of the business.

“The business model for the company clearly works and I see no reason why in at the deep end won’t continue to go from strength to strength in the future.”

To learn more about Sunderland Software City, visit www.sunderlandsoftwarecity.comor call 0845 872 8575.

To learn more about in at the deep end, visit www.inatthedeepend.com, www.facebook.com/inatthedeependor call 0800 840 3084.

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