In 1991, Goldberg filed for divorce. “We’d been together many years, and our time was over,” she says. She walked away from the business, which she co-owned with her husband, and moved in with her sister in Miami. “I put an ocean between me and my entire past,” Goldberg says. “I had less than $3,000. You know . . . women, guilt. I don’t know why we do these things to ourselves. But I did.” With no means of buying or building a pool, Goldberg knocked on doors at fitness centers in southern Florida, offering to teach her technique in their pools. A club in Coral Springs said yes, charging her 10 percent of her gross for the use of their facility, and in February 1992 she opened the British Swim School (britishswimschool.com) with 17 pupils.
Then, through friends of friends, Goldberg met two investors, and in 1995 they put down $200,000 to build a pool in a shopping center. In its first year, the school grossed $250,000, and the group decided to open a second site. But as they were about to break ground, disagreements exploded, and the investors pulled out. “I had contractors and builders on their way,” Goldberg recalls. “So I paid for everything with some savings and credit cards—$60,000.”
She paid off her debt within 12 months. And exactly 20 years after she opened her first British Swim School in the U.S., she began franchising her business. Today she owns four indoor schools in Florida and 13 franchises in four states. The four schools that Goldberg owns outright earned about $1 million in 2012. “Young people who love to teach don’t know that there is a way to own a swim school in which you can make a very nice living,” Goldberg says. “I’m very glad I worked so hard to get from a swimsuit to a business suit!”
Amanda Robb's most recent story for More was "Illness Changes Everything” in April.
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