Too Legit To Quit The Lost Sensory Swim Interview
- extremely enjoyable
- exceedingly effective
- perfectly fitted
- private swim lessons
I was excited to sit down with Andrew & Mary the powerful husband and wife team that founded Sensory Swim and drill them with questions that would pierce the veil of their spotless reputation.
They agreed to my blind interview request via their super hero / administrative assistant Abbey on one term.
The term was that if they were going to attempt a no holds barred interview segment that it had to be over lunch and they were buying.
How am I supposed to not like a couple that rolls like that?
It was a December morning in 2014 and they were two weeks away from finishing up their Triumph Today Testify Tomorrow Tour which kept them on the road for six months betweent stops in
- Virginia ( Sterling & Winchester)
- Delaware (Hockessin)
- Maryland (Bel Air & Hagerstown)
As they arrived via Uber they were all smiles and excited to eat wings with me at the Buffalo Wild Wings in my hometown of Hagerstown, Maryland which was also one of their tour stops.
They also didn't know I was sitting inside already and I didn't expect them to be early.
So right off the bat they were respecting my time which doesn't happen much.
After speaking for a while about the tour I could tell that they were dedicated to helping children with autism just like yours and mine to fight back against the dangers of wandering.
They have a tremendous track record of success which led CBS to name Sensory Swim a leader in the field of special education.
“ The couple draws for their colorful education backgrounds to impart indispensable knowledge that may prevent many autistic children and adults from drowning.” – CBS
But unlike many professionals that I’ve spoken with over the years, Andrew & Mary have to be the most down to earth people I’ve ever interviewed.
While so many swimming programs make bold promises, it’s been proven time and time again that Sensory Swim quietly produces real results.
Over the past decade Andrew & Mary have been personally been responsible for over 4,000 swimming machines.
And your child could be next.
When asked why they are so down to earth when everybody else in the autism community considers them rock stars Andrew said “We’re the creators of the humble pie and when we get boastful , we always end up eating a lot more pie than we want to”
You’ve probably noticed by now how professional athletes, men and women at the top of their sport, always have coaches to keep them at peak performance?
Why is that?
Because a coach will notice when their game is off, and can help them make small adjustments that can result in huge payoffs.
In the autism community , Andrew & Mary are the coaches that parents flock too.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” – Charles Caleb Colton
If the quote above holds any truth Sensory Swim would be the perfect example.
The program is often imitated in tune to several programs a year popping up even using their trademarked name.
But Andrew & Mary could never be duplicated.
Mary & Andrew know that if you start with a proven plan & the right strategy, you can literally convert years of struggle into days of achievement.
But nobody has tweaked that plan over and over again as much as the couple that was sitting in front of me still flirting with each other like they were on their first date.
And nobody knows the secret ingredient but here’s a clue: what they do is not “conventional wisdom.”
They think way outside the box.
Heck, they shatter the box.
Their students become allergic to boxes.
“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur” – Red Adair
Sensory Swim is known as the most requested special needs swim program on the planet and for plenty of good reasons.
But if your child ever gets to experience the program first hand you quickly know why parents have dubbed it the place “where impossible odds set the stage for God’s amazing miracles."
Andrew & Mary are proud Christians and if you can't tell that by the cross that Andrew rocks around his neck 24-7 you can tell by the cross that's tatted on one of his inner arms.
The other inner arm is tatted with 1-1-six.
116 is a nationwide movement of believers of the Christian faith.
Started by Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Tedashii.
They are not only a rap group, but they are a group of people worldwide who are not ashamed to speak of The Gospel of Christ and also live it out.
Mary is the one who brought Andrew back to Christ in 2006 and Sensory Swim was their first deep dive together.
As much as 95% of Sensory Swim students enroll after years of little to no progress at other swim schools.
The same schools that advertise they know how to teach kids with autism and other special needs how to swim.
But in reality they don’t.
And while some of them might sincerely think they’re helping, people can be sincere and be sincerely wrong.
Sadly most swim schools offering services to autistic children and adults are like profile photos for online dating.
They paint a better portrait than the reality.
Even though those lessons are fairly inexpensive compared to the price tag of lessons at Sensory Swim, in the long run parents always feel duped while they end up overpaying for under performance.
Andrew & Mary have a knack for breaking through complexity and turning autistic kids into swimming machines.
So what is a break through?
A breakthrough is a moment in time when the impossible becomes possible – when you don’t just talk about something, but you finally take massive action and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
You make a move to truly change and improve the situation.
Sensory Swim creates these breakthroughs because as a team they are committed to one primary outcome: to make sure your child can save them self and get out of a body of water as soon as possible by whatever means necessary.
The proof isn’t in the pudding, it’s in the pool as a majority of the students at Sensory Swim will learn how to swim a hundred yards and escape a body of water before they ever float on their backs.
“Hope doesn’t float. For decades instructors have been teaching kids how to float and tread water before they actually learn how to get out of a body of water and it makes no sense.
Hope is not a strategy that we used when we taught our boys how to swim and it’s still not one when it comes to our students well being."
When asked if there was a secret to Sensory Swim’s success Andrew explains“ Knowledge is power, but execution trumps knowledge."
From day one we’ve made a commitment to full disclosure, full transparency, and conflict-free advice in every aspect
of our ministry so here’s the “Sensory Swim Secret”.
We know that teaching these kids how to swim is 95% psychology and 5% mechanics and what we've been hearing is that a majority of lessons provided around the world leave out the psychology."
In the autism community ignorance is not bliss it’s pain and a lifetime of unimaginable sorrow.
The Autism Wandering Awareness Alerts Response and Education (AWAARE) Collaboration is a working group of six national non-profit autism organizations whose mission is to prevent autism-related wandering incidents and deaths because ...
- Nearly half of children with autism engage in wandering behavior
- Wandering occurs across all settings, under every type of adult supervision
- Increased risks are associated with autism severity
- Half of families report they have never received advice or guidance about wandering from a professional
- Accidental drowning accounts for approximately 90% of lethal outcomes
So what does Mary have to say about it.
“ Our program wouldn’t exist if the need wasn’t there. Our labor of love is being able to direct, motivate and shape
these kids into swimming machines.We know the statistics and so does everybody else. We didn’t make this stuff up. We just dedicated our lives to being a solution.”
How does Sensory Swim respond to the critics who say they only provide “white glove” service for those of ultra high net
Andrew explains "That’s not true at all. We know our lessons are out of reach for a lot of people and that’s just because we plan to be here for decades to come and we can’t do that if we burn ourselves out and if anyone can participate. We can’t be everything to everybody so we don’t even try.
My mother is a school teacher & my father is a mechanic and as blue collar as they come. He’s never even been on the internet because he thinks it’s useless. But when I was a child I wanted to learn how to play the guitar and private lessons were expensive.
But my father never accepted anything but the best for my siblings and I.
So about two years later at my first show I asked him if I was worth the investment and he said “If we didn’t think you were
worth the investment, we wouldn’t have made it.”
So if Sensory Swim is the program for your child you’ll know right away.
And if it isn’t you’ll know that as well. “
When you Google autism swim lessons there is a list that is put out by the National Autism Association about providers of special needs swim lessons and surprisingly as of this writing Sensory Swim is nowhere to be found.
So when I asked them how they felt about being the black sheep of the swimming industry Mary responded by speaking what everybody knows but not a lot of people are willing to say
“ Just because they are on the list doesn’t mean they are skilled. We base Sensory Swim’s success off of how well our students succeed. We would much rather be in the background and let our students take the spotlight”
There is one thing that Sensory Swim knows with absolute certainty.
Every child has an ideal environment in which they flourish.
Sensory Swim chose to take a long term approach for the smoothest ride possible.
Mary says “Lessons should be grounded in compassion.When it comes down to it a lack of compassion causes stress.A lack of compassion causes a lot of unnecessary struggles.Results minus compassion is not an acceptable outcome for your child. Make this your number one priority. Forget certificates and degrees and seek out someone with compassion.
You can’t lose.”
Sensory Swim was also one of the first in their industry to stand by their lessons with a money back guarantee.
The risk we all face as parents and consumer in general is being ripped off.
Mary & Andrew know this all too well.
Mary explained that a few years back they bought a one of a kind Elmo custom from a designer in Japan off of Ebay.
It showed up the day before Halloween.
Can you guess what was in the huge box where the adult sized Elmo costume was supposed to be?
Six pounds of bubble wrap and a panda key chain that sang “ I love you”.
They know that their industry is known for schools & fly by summer instructors who must be long time fans of the Steve Miller Band because they “take the money and run.”.
They have taken a stand and are determined to not be part of that scene.
“ To whom much is given, much is expected. Life is more about what you have, it’s really all about what you have to give.
If parents don’t think we are given 100% we expect them to ask for their money back.
We would do the same.
We are driven to deliver exceedingly effective lessons and even more obsessed with making sure we are a perfect fit for your child” Mary said .
When asked how many refunds they give in a given year they responded in sync “two in the last decade.”
I must have looked surprised because after I picked my jaw off the floor and a few chicken wings..
Mary responded with “ but we guarantee that if those two parents would have actually shown up for at least one of their lessons it would have been a different story."
Sensory Swim sounds on the surface too good to be true, but in reality, their program is the ultimate blueprint in accelerating your child’s success and their track record offers parents like you and me the ultimate piece of mind.
Most successful swim instructors with a reputation like Mary & Andrew go on to start their own swim schools and hire
employees to run the show.
So I asked what keeps them interested in the day to day hustle.
“Everyday, Mary and I get to wake up knowing that we are making a positive impact on children with special needs.
Almost 50 percent of children with autism will elope when attracted to water.
Our main goal is to equip these kids with the skills to swim.
When a parent tells us about one of our students eloping and how they ended up jumping in a neighbor’s pool and
then climbing out of it because they knew how… that’s what motivates us to keep doing what we do.”
Mary and Andrew both excused themselves to use the bathroom and a few minutes later I was greeted by a whole bunch of wait staff singing me Happy Birthday.
When I explained to them that it wasn't my birthday they said " it's okay Andrew & Mary had to run, they payed for your
meal and they wanted you to know that you can have your cake and eat it too.
Enjoy this cake and ice cream"
I would later send them a handwritten Christmas card and inside I wrote
Dear Andrew & Mary, It was a pleasure meeting you and picking your brains.
For Christmas I hope you get some new haters because the ones you have are starting to like you a lot.
Your New Fan Olivia