Our Team

Here at Little Otter Swim School, we're family, not franchise. 

Our team provides the highest quality swim lessons, designed to increase water safety and enjoyment, taught by nurturing, caring instructors, in an environment of fun and comfort.

We continue to be an active voice in promoting and educating the community about water safety, drowning and drowning prevention, as well as the cognitive and developmental benefits of early and consistent exposure to the water.


Our Instructors

Our instructors are the reason your child will love the way they learn.  We strive to create amazing experiences — not only for our students and their families but also for our team.

We hire, train and nurture energetic, creative, and patient swim instructors who want to spend their day teaching your children the fundamentals of swimming — safely.

Our swimming instructors are just as dedicated to learning as they are teaching.

  • Completing more than 40 hours of training
  • Understanding developmental readiness of children
  • Focused on continuing education 

If you are interested in joining a team with growth opportunities, visit our career page.

Our Founders

Little Otter Swim School was founded in 2005 in Charlotte, NC, by John and Lory Kirk. Over the last 20 years we've grown from one school with 25 children and 5 instructors to two, state-of-the-art facilities with more than 3,000 students and nearly 70 instructors. 

We are passionate about nurturing our dedicated staff members that enjoy and see the reward in what they have chosen for their career! 

Our Team, John and Lory Kirk, Founders of Little Otter Swim School

John Kirk

Co-founder, owner, and operator

A Charlotte, NC native, John joined the US Swim School Association more than 20 years ago. Over the years he has been honored as a Guiding Light, chair of the PR committee, a board member, and Vice President and President of the Association. John is also a founding board member of Hope Floats Foundation, which provides swim lessons to children that might not otherwise be able to afford them.

Continued learning is a pillar of the Little Otter Swim School culture and John has been chosen twice to participate in the Coutts Family Scholarship program. This program brings leading thinkers from the US, Canada, and Australia to gather and discuss issues confronting the learn-to-swim industry.

  • Founding board member of Hope Floats Foundation
  • Former President of USSSA (2 terms) Hall of Fame
  • U.S. Swim School Association member, 20+ years
  • Guiding Light honoree, and held various chair positions
  • Coutts Family Scholarship Program
  • Little Otter Deck Leader

Lory Kirk

Co-founder, owner, and operator

Lory brings the heart of a champion and the curiosity of a child's spirit with her every day. Her experience and passion lives and breathes in the Little Otter Swim School Program.

She graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in Elementary Education and later added a degree in Early Childhood from the University of Central Florida. Before her professional education, she was a competitive gymnast and judge. She knows hard work pays off and she knows what it requires to learn skills that will last a lifetime.

Achievements and Education

  • Appalachian State University: Elementary Education
  • University of Central Florida: Early Childhood Education  
  • U.S. Gymnastics Federation Judge 1982-1987
  • Gymnastics Coach recreational level and competitive levels 1-7
  • Eight years of teaching experience: Kindergarten, First, and Third grades
  • Swim Curriculum Coordinator
  • Otter Baby Teacher and Deck Leader
  • U.S. Swim School Association Infant-Toddler Classroom Workshop Certification 
  • U.S. Swim School Association Infant-Toddler Water Workshop Certification
  • Outstanding Teacher Award from the U.S. Swim School Association in 2009
  • Business Woman Extraordinaire 2011