La Petite Baleen swim school Logo

LPB Beginnings

On April 15, 1979 La Petite Baleen swim school opened in the backyard of Irene Madrid and John Kolbisen. Irene walked down the stairs to the first lessons with a cork board, a tupperware bacon keeper and a 70's TV tray table for clients to pay their tuition and read about LPB.

That image is great, but their vision was even more remarkable.

“At first my vision for LPB was to have more family time with my three young children and make use of my ideas from physical education classes and my father's developmental approach of childhood swim lessons,” said Irene. “To my great surprise, people from all over the Bay Area quickly discovered us and our unique educational approach. I realized that our growing knowledge and practice of developmental swimming was THE BEST method for teaching children of all ages. Demand for our swim school propelled us to spread our (butterfly) wings and the rest is history!”

From the beginning, Irene and John knew that learning to swim was the single-most important thing a child could learn to do, and the believed then as they do now, that children are never too young to learn. In an early brochure, LPB’s core curriculum was spelled out and while there have been several adjustments over the years, the goal basics are still the same:

1. Adjust to the teacher and the environment

2. Breath control

3. Fundamental arm and leg movements

As we approach our 38th anniversary, we are proud to still be one of the top swim schools in the world both in the quality of our curriculum and number of students we teach each week.