In Step with Kelly Gaines, Owner of Charlotte Aquatics

The latest in our series with parents you should know

Kellygaines2Kelly Gaines, the longtime owner of Charlotte Aquatics, has built a career around water safety and drowning prevention. Since 1996, her swim school has provided over 70,000 lessons to children in the Charlotte area. We caught up with Gaines to find out how she became a swimmer, why she’s such an advocate for water safety, and how she’s stayed afloat throughout the pandemic.


Family Status: Married to husband Roger for 34 years with one daughter, age 24.

Hometown: Roseville, Michigan

Currently Lives: South Charlotte, about 10 minutes from Charlotte Aquatics

Currently Reading: I just finished The Power of Moments and am currently reading Contagious, which is about how ideas catch on, not how COVID-19 spreads.

Favorite Sports Team: I am not a big sports fan. I love to tailgate, eat, and socialize with my friends when a game is on.

I first got involved with swimming when…I was little. I grew up with a pool in our backyard and my dad had me swimming before I could walk. I swam in high school and was selected to swim for a small private university, but since my parents couldn’t afford it, even with a scholarship, my swimming career ended.

I have been running Charlotte Aquatics for…12 years.

One thing I want parents to know about Charlotte Aquatics is…I purchased it because our daughter almost drowned in our pool when she was 18 months old. Had I not been there to see her fall while reaching for a toy that had fallen into the pool, she would have certainly drowned. After that, I took her to Charlotte Aquatics for swim lessons. When the school was for sale, I happily bought it! That is why water safety is so important to us and part of every lesson. I had a happy ending. Unfortunately, many parents experience a tragic ending; drowning is the number one cause of accidental death in children ages 1 to 4.

One thing I want kids to know about Charlotte Aquatics is…They can trust us, and we’re fun. You’ll be so proud of yourself every time you accomplish a new goal!

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to change… pretty much every physical aspect of what we do in the facility, including social distancing and decreased class size. We have a greeter stationed at our front door to ensure all our safety regulations are followed and to take temperatures. We have also upped the cleaning and disinfecting, although we were clean freaks before. The things that haven’t changed are our professional, yet playful, and caring staff; our fun and engaging swim lessons; our commitment to excellence; and our commitment to water safety and drowning prevention.

After the pandemic, I’m most looking forward to…hugging people, holding babies, and traveling.

If I am not at work, you’re likely to find me…working in my yard, hanging with my daughter, or relaxing on the porch listening to my waterfall.