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Lesley's tips for swimming teachers

My route into Swimming Teaching was different from other stories I have heard. I have always been interested in swimming and was okay at it but never got the opportunity to move from learning to swim to a club because it was too great of a commitment for my family.

Nonetheless, my desire to immerse myself in the aquatic world persisted, even if competitive swimming wasn’t my pursuit.

After becoming a Lifeguard, I found myself intrigued as I observed a friend conducting one-to-one swimming lessons. This experience ignited a newfound interest within me, prompting me to embark on the journey of becoming a certified swimming teacher.

I have now been a swimming teacher for 18 years and couldn’t think of a more rewarding job.

Make lessons fun

My main top tip for being an outstanding teacher is to have FUN! Be creative and think outside the box. Children, regardless of age, possess boundless imaginations – so use their ideas and transform them into tangible experiences.

Utilise a diverse range of equipment; I’ve employed watermelons, pumpkins, and even concealed activities in bottles. Furthermore, tailoring lessons to match the season or national occasions has enabled me to craft themed sessions that resonate with my students. Find ideas for themed games and occasions here.

Feedback can also be delivered in a creative manner. Personally, I enjoy weaving in my fondness for biscuits, using various types of treats to illustrate the proficiency of my swimmers’ techniques. Through these biscuit-inspired references, my students have developed a clear understanding of the expectations, and who could resist striving for the excellence of a “triple chocolate chip”?

Learn from your fellow teachers

There are many different challenges a teacher can face but asking for advice from your colleagues and learning from each experience creates a strong teacher. Delving into continuous research of your teaching skills and swimming techniques equips you to flexibly adjust and instills not only confidence in the swimmers but also garners the trust of their parents.

Positive feedback

What I have learnt is that we all like praise, giving, and receiving. Some of my favourite lessons are with adults; adults have embedded fears which can come from past experiences or not having the opportunity. Celebrate, jump, cheer those adults and they will leave the pool with the biggest smile on their faces and will come back wanting more.

Make lessons inclusive

Be willing to adapt. There are great CPDs that will help support delivering successful inclusive lessons. There are also fantastic fact sheets that will help to support swimmers with health conditions.

Success can be measured in so many ways but…

  • Have FUN
  • Be patient
  • Adapt
  • Be creative
  • Be inclusive
  • Be a role model

Swimming is not just about learning a skill, it’s a great starting point for so many more aquatic activities. You never know, you could be teaching the next lifeguard, teacher, or Olympiad.