Miller Swim School was established in 1960 by Larry and Rita Miller in order to teach students to respect and enjoy the water, and to be safe, happy, successful swimmers.
The Millers, both retired former Tulsa Public Schools teachers and coaches, have been teaching youngsters to swim for most of their 64 years of married life.
In 1960, they started giving summer lessons in a neighborhood pool they were running near 31st Street and Memorial Drive.
“I figured if I can teach kids how to throw a football, I can sure teach them how to swim,” Miller said. “We started that first year, teaching from 9 in the morning until 9 at night. I was in the water the whole time.”
Their business grew. Soon they were renting high school and junior high pools across town to keep up with demand. They had as many as five operating at one time.
They continued that way for years, running the business out of their home. In 1995, Rita Miller retired after 15 years as Hale’s head swimming coach, the first woman to lead an Oklahoma varsity swimming program.
Looking for a new challenge in 1995, the Millers decided to build their current facility at 6415 S. Mingo Road.
“I guess we could have retired to our rocking chairs, but it’s something we wanted to try,” Rita Miller said.
People said it would never work.
“We went out on a limb,” Miller said. “But I didn’t borrow that kind of money at the age of 62 just to lose it.”
Today, their business employs 35 people year-round and up to 65 in the summer months while training about 200 lifeguards annually.
We are now teaching third generations students. The Millers say they’ve taught upwards of 200,000 Tulsans how to swim.
The school teaches the same techniques used to prepare competitive swimmers and has developed five instructional videos. People have traveled from Europe and Australia to observe the school in action.
Swimmers progress through many levels, earning ribbons along the way. But Miller said the No. 1 priority is making new swimmers safe in the water.
The Millers were inducted into the U.S. Swim School Association Hall of Fame in 2003.
Now, Miller Swim School employs many first and second generation family members and many other staff who truly feel like family!