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After 59 years, Jan Thomas Swim School to stop giving lessons

Iconic Jan Thomas Swim School will close after nearly 60 years

Jan Thomas and her daughter Becky Thomas looked at each other recently and decided it was time to end the Jan Thomas Swim School. The swim school along North Willow Avenue has taught children for almost 60 years.
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Jan Thomas and her daughter Becky Thomas looked at each other recently and decided it was time to end the Jan Thomas Swim School. The swim school along North Willow Avenue has taught children for almost 60 years.

Jan Thomas Swim School, one of the Valley’s best known programs, will no longer offer swim lessons starting Aug. 3.

The company, which has been in business for 59 years, announced the changes on its Facebook page Monday morning.

The post said, in part: “After 61,000 champion swimmers, the Jan Thomas Swim School has decided to change its focus. It will no longer be teaching swim lessons as of Aug 3, 2017, but instead will be spending its 60th year and beyond helping other businesses to grow and succeed, and giving to the community in other ways.”

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Jan Thomas, right, is helped by daughter Becky Thomas, left, as she walks at the Jan Thomas Swim School on Monday, July 23, 2017 in Clovis. The Jan Thomas Swim School announced through social media that it will be closing after decades offering children swim lessons. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

Not surprisingly, more than 100 people posted comments on the swim school’s Facebook page within hours of the news. Many thanked Thomas and her staff for teaching their children how to swim.

Leila Bennett-Snow wrote: “Thank you for your amazing swim school. After 5 summers with your instructors, both of my kids are capable and confident swimmers. I'm thankful for the solid foundation your swim school has given them.”

Created in 1958, the school is the oldest and largest seasonal swim school in the U.S., according to the company’s website. The school at 1849 N. Willow Ave. in Clovis was run by Thomas and her daughter, Becky Thomas.

The school teaches swimming to 1,400 students per season and is known for teaching toddlers and younger to love the water. The average age of students is 3 year old, but instructors teach swimming to people of all ages, including adults.

The Jan Thomas Swim School announced Monday that it would be closing after 59 years of swim lessons in the Valley. This video from the school's Facebook page shows students swimming a few years ago.

Thomas said she’d keep her school open “forever” if she could, but she is now 80.

“We had a gut feeling this year is the year,” Thomas said. “You know, it’s time.”

She said she and her daughter plan to engage in motivational speaking, help other businesses succeed and donate scholarships to Clovis high schools.

Reporter Lewis Griswold contributed to this story. Robert Rodriguez: 559-441-6327, @FresnoBeeBob

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