By RAEGAN DOUGHARTY
GROUND-BREAKING DAY: Miller Swim School owners and staff turn the inaugural dirt with Jenks chamber and city officials and Herbie the Hippo, the Miller Swim School mascot, at the ground-breaking ceremony for the school’s second location.
RAEGAN DOUGHARTY for GTR Newspapers
The sun shined on rows of parked cars lining nearby neighborhood streets as community members gathered at the ground-breaking ceremony for the second location of Miller Swim School. The event was held in January by the Jenks Chamber of Commerce near the intersection of Elwood Avenue and 91st Street in Jenks.
The second location will allow over 2,000 students to be accommodated in the new facility, which is expected to open in October. The building will be 8,200 square feet and will house a 50,000-gallon pool.
Larry and Rita Miller, former Tulsa Public Schools teachers and coaches, began teaching area children to swim in 1960 as a side job. Holding classes in a neighborhood pool, the Millers quickly outgrew the available space, and the number of swim students snowballed until the couple ultimately decided to move to a new facility.
“We started teaching swimming lessons at an outdoor pool, and it filled up so fast, they didn’t want us to be there,” Larry said at the ceremony.
The Millers used several different venues for three years before the number of students became too great. The Millers continued to experience student growth until “One day, we woke up and said, ‘We’re going to build a swim school,’” said Larry.
The couple, who have been married for over 60 years, stood at the podium while machinery hummed in the background, preparing the site for building construction to begin.
“We’re celebrating not just welcoming a new business into the Jenks community but celebrating their investment in our community. Celebrating new jobs and opportunities for people closer to home,” said Jenks Chamber of Commerce President Josh Driskell.
Miller family members and Miller Swim School staff turned dirt as community members watched. The school’s mascot, Herbie the Hippo, was present as well.
“We opened 22 years ago out on Mingo Road, and we’re excited to expand into southwest Tulsa and the Jenks community,” Larry said. “Our current location does not allow us to adequately serve the people of the Tulsa community as we should.”
Located at 6415 S. Mingo Rd. in Tulsa, the first Miller Swim School has been a part of the community since its construction in 1995. According to its website, the Tulsa location employs 35 people year round and trains approximately 200 lifeguards annually. The Millers say they have taught around 200,000 Tulsans to swim.