Swimming for Life


By Greg Smith, Staff Writer

The swimming gene runs deep in Cara Wise’s family. Her father swam All-American in college; she and her sister swam competitively in high school. Cara began teaching kids to swim soon thereafter. She started with a swim program sponsored by LAUSD, where they brought portable pools to inner-city schools. Imagine Cara in the heat of the summer, teaching kids how to do the breast-stroke in 30 minute increments.

“It was a great experience, but very intense. It’s insane how burned you get standing in three feet of water on the hot asphalt all day long,” Cara says.

When it came time to put herself through nursing school, she thought, “What better way than swim classes?” That was seven years ago.

Her DIY approach produced considerable results. She started her own private swim company, teaching lessons in people’s homes. Cara had to hire a staff of instructors to fill the growing demand, and parents soon had to call in February to reserve lessons for their child in the summer!

All of this was great news for Cara, but in the meantime she had finished school and was now a registered pediatric oncology nurse. She believed her days as a swim instructor were numbered — that she simply wouldn’t have enough time to do both.

“I couldn’t give it up, though. Teaching had become such a passion to me. I wanted to reach more people, for the school to continue to flourish.”

Hollywood Swim School is the present incarnation of Cara’s vision. All of the teachers are Water Safety Instructor Certified, and most convenient of all, they come to you.

“It’s difficult to manage all of your kids’ summer activities. Having someone show up at your door when you need it is a great asset. The benefit of personalized swim instruction is we can tailor our lessons to where your child is developmentally, in their age range. It simply allows your child to learn more in a shorter time.”

Cara’s business model is downright commendable; her passion for others is as deep as the ocean. In a world of corporate greed and a “me first” mentality, Hollywood Swim School stands alone.

“Part of reaching more people is to give portions of the profit to pediatric cancer research. I’d also like to be able to sponsor families that can’t afford lessons, where we’ll match the donations made by more well-off families and teach children that normally wouldn’t get that chance to swim.”

This selfless woman concedes that Hollywood Swim School is partly to her benefit:

“To see healthy, happy and thriving kids learn to swim, in a way, helps to balance out what I see at work. It’s how I cope with this job: to pour my energy into something positive and good. So many kids at the hospital would love to be able to swim, but can’t.”

Teaching a child to swim is vital to her. It’s more than a recreational hobby — it’s a safety issue.

“When you teach a kid to swim, you see a whole level of confidence and freedom that they will carry for the rest of their life. They will learn the importance of exercise and pool safety. Drowning and cancer are two of the leading causes of death in children. It’s my ultimate goal to prevent both of them.”

This caretaker mentality has been present in Cara for as long as she can remember, and if it’s not obvious already, shows no sign of stopping.

Sign up for Hollywood Swim School today! For more information or to get your child enrolled in classes,
call (818) 624-1075 or email

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