FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IN THE COLUMBIA COLLEGE INTRODUCTION OF THEIR SERIES GO FOR GREATER®, A COLLECTION OF INTERVIEWS WITH ALUMNI WHO’VE TAKEN THEIR CC DEGREES AND GONE FOR GREATER.
Kenneth Rippetoe Instills Joy And Confidence In His Students At His Nonprofit Swim School In Los Angeles, One With The Water®
KENNETH RIPPETOE, HOW DO YOU GO FOR GREATER®?
I believe that my life is and has always been striving to go for greater. I have always set goals in my life and I achieved most of them before the age of 33, which was one of my goals. Those goals included becoming an engineer, getting a master’s degree, traveling the world and learning several languages.
While studying mechanical engineering in undergrad, I quickly realized that I wanted to pair my degree with a master’s degree in business administration. While I enjoyed studying the sciences/mathematics and quantum physics, I knew that engineering management was a better fit for me. After moving to Columbia, Missouri, for my engineering job, Columbia College advertised the start of an evening Master’s Degree program. It was the perfect opportunity for me and an honor to be accepted as part of the very first Columbia College MBA program. Going for greater for me was completing my degree and then using it to become an overseas volunteer working with the wonderful people (low-income families) of Bolivia and Venezuela. From there, I proceeded to Wall Street and worked in a hedge fund for several years and then ended up back in engineering management for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
In light of those events, I have excelled in starting several companies over the last decade that I am happy to report have shown growth rates of over 65% year/year. Of course, I’ve had failures, too, but for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed the business world that Columbia College opened my mind to.
One of companies of which I am most proud, is the non-profit swim school in Los Angeles that I started in August 2011 – One with the Water®. I contribute my success in these businesses to my classes at Columbia College, especially the professors I had who were very positive and knowledgeable of real-world experiences. Their motivation and challenges presented me with a drive to always go for greater.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START ONE WITH THE WATER®?
When I was a kid, my parents forced me to take swimming lessons, just like the ones I teach today. I despised going to lessons and had to be bribed to stay in the class. I despised even more having to be a part of the swim team at the age of 13. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I was being recruited for collegiate swimming that I actually started to think about becoming a semi-professional swimmer. I had been a lifeguard and lifeguard trainer since the age of 16. Once I went to a college recruiting trip, it was then that I saw the royal benefits of being a collegiate athlete! I was sold. My coach had me swimming and weight training 25 hours a week.
Decades later, while currently living in Los Angeles, I work as a part-time lifeguard and swim instructor in Santa Monica. With over 28 years of experience as a competitive swimmer and instructor, I focused my efforts and started teaching full-time.
During the summer of 2011, I worked for another swim school, teaching kids with Autism and what I now like to call “flawless neurological imperfections.” Perhaps the diagnosis wasn’t known when I was a child, however, I found I had a lot in common with the kids: the things they do, their noises, self-stimulation, communication, their knowledge of the soul and spirit-world, and the way they are perceived for being the way they are; we were a perfect match. At the closing of the summer lessons, I realized that I wanted to do this full-time as a career. I went home that night and while sleeping, I dreamt about starting my own swimming school. I knew I could do a great job and provide swim coaches like myself the opportunity to teach and create opportunities for others that had the same passion for teaching swimming as I have. The next morning I started One with the Water®. I sketched out the logo and name that I had dreamt about, programmed the website, and filed for the IRS EIN that same week. Within a week I was fully-insured, renting pool space, and teaching a hand-full of clients. Within the first month, I had another instructor and we were both busy expanding the company. I also completed numerous certification courses in working with kids with special needs and disabilities.
YOU OFFER SWIM PROGRAMS THAT CATER TO A WIDE RANGE OF CHILDREN AND ADULT LEARNERS, INCLUDING THOSE WITH DISABILITIES. WHAT DO YOU HOPE THESE SWIMMERS, IN PARTICULAR, GAIN FROM THEIR LESSONS?
One with the Water® is all about being the best swim school we can possibly be. We are about sharing with others our passion of being in the water and living. The peacefulness we gain from swimming is something that has become greater than a life-or-death matter to us. Swimming is our passion. It is an escape from this world and the sometimes over-stimulation. Teaching people about our passion and helping them to achieve this peacefulness is our passion. We connect with people on the spiritual level, especially the kids with special needs. We build their confidence and teach them how to relax and become “one with the water.”
PRIOR TO STARTING ONE WITH THE WATER®, YOU VOLUNTEERED FOR PROGRAMS IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES THAT HELPED EMPOWER CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILIES TO BECOME LESS RELIANT ON SPONSORSHIP AND MORE ON THEIR OWN ABILITIES. HOW DOES THAT TRANSLATE TO WHAT YOU DO NOW?
Yes, I worked in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Spain with “sponsor-a-child-programs” of Maryknoll (New York) and the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (Kansas City) that helped to provide an education to children, as well as vitamins, nutritional seminars, and shoes and clothing when necessary. It was an incredible experience in which I made life-long friends. I think my experience as a volunteer has helped me to create an organization that is family-oriented and builds a community among all of our clients. I believe it is important for us to interact as positive role-models for each other, for our clients and especially for the kids. I advertise that it takes a village to teach a child to swim. We seek out sponsors and we are very thankful for each of them! There’s a lot involved in running a non-profit swim school and I can’t and don’t do it by myself. By teaching kids to swim and sometimes teaching their parents how to teach their kids how to swim, we develop this empowerment among the families. We hold classes and social functions to create opportunities for clients to meet each other and share stories about their experiences, and to learn from each other. Presenting education about water safety and swimming, that’s how we empower children and their families.
HOW HAS YOUR DEGREE FROM COLUMBIA COLLEGE HELPED YOUR CAREER?
Graduate school at Columbia College was the highlight of my formal education. I loved studying business; I loved listening and conversing with the professors about finance, marketing, and strategic planning. It was such a stimulating environment for me. I waited 5 years after undergrad before starting the MBA program. I believe having several years of work experience first, helped me to really benefit from Columbia College. I knew more of what I wanted to do and had my goals really set out in front of me. Although I didn’t at that time realize it would be One with the Water®, I knew I wanted to create a full-time job for myself doing what I was passionate about. Having the classes in the MBA program really helped me to build this organization to what it has become and what it will be. I know more about organizational theory since grad school, finance and marketing. Columbia College really opened my mind to seeking alternative processes and creating amazing solutions to problems. I am the Executive Director, but we have eight instructors teaching swimming, and along with me, I have three staff members continuously working on our social media outreach and website search engine optimization. I also have 2 interns each tri-semester helping us with marketing and blogging.
My education at Columbia College definitely helped me in knowing how to build a company. As a swim school, One with the Water® has had 900% growth over the first year and we’re already 110% over that year. I am looking to expand it nationwide, state by state. That’s the five-year plan.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT HELPING OTHERS LEARN TO SWIM?
I can’t answer this without laughing… There are two things I enjoy most about helping others learn to swim: 1) The moment that my student understands and reaches that point of being “one with the water” is like witnessing an amazing miracle that brings tears to my eyes and is a state of astounding happiness, a breathtaking moment, and 2) well, my office is an outdoor swimming pool.
ABOUT ONE WITH THE WATER®
One with the Water® is the best swim school in Los Angeles offering competitive swim training and year‐round swimming lessons for children and adults with a wide variety of skill levels, from total beginner to competitive athlete. In addition to their national‐level competitive swimming skills, One with the Water®’s swim instructors are trained to work with children and adults diagnosed withautism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD, sensory integration, anxiety, Down and CHARGE syndrome, auditory processing disorders, dyslexia, and others. Founder and Head Coach Kenneth Rippetoe is certified by the American Swimming Coach Association Disability Level 3.
Tax-deductible donations to One with the Water®, Inc., a 501(c)(3), can be made at the organization’s website: OneWithTheWater.org/donate.aspx.
One with the Water: contact Coach Kenneth at 323.364.Swim
Kenny is a baby Bottlenose dolphin, of the genus Tursiops, one of the most common and well-known members of the family Delphinidae, the family of oceanic dolphin. He is very playful and friendly and loves to frequently leap above the water surface. Kenny plays with water toys, enjoys making bubble rings, and plays well with other dolphins or other animals.