Assistant swimming teacher story: Hamza Ali

Hamza Ali, 21, has recently graduated from Sheffield Hallam University with a 2:1 BSC in Sports Coaching. As part of the applied and vocational components to his studies, Hamza completed the Institute of Swimming’s SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) courses. Surprisingly, on starting the degree programme Hamza couldn’t even swim.

Since graduating in June, Hamza is currently working in a number of jobs; as a Teaching Assistant at a Primary School in Rotherham, as a leisure centre attendant/assistant swimming teacher at Places Leisure Aston-cum-Aughton Leisure Centre and as a coach at a children’s rugby club.

Hamza says: “I loved studying at Sheffield Hallam University and I really enjoyed how hands-on the Sports Coaching degree is. There is a lot of varied modules and the staff are extremely helpful, supportive and friendly. I was so pleased to have graduated and immediately been able to secure real work.

“I had always been quite sporty at school and enjoyed playing basketball, however it was a toss-up for me whether to pursue a business or sporting degree; I’m really excited with the route I took. One of the unique factors that drew to me to the Sports Coaching degree was the amount of work experience the syllabus offers, allowing my CV to stand out from the crowd.”

The Institute of Swimming works collaboratively with Sheffield Hallam University to train students on the Sports Coaching Degree Course with their SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) qualification and secures the students 30 hours of meaningful work experience, assisting in real swimming lessons, as part of the aquatic programme.

From learning to swim to becoming an assistant swimming teacher

Hamza says: “I told my tutor I couldn’t swim, and she reassured me and encouraged me. I remember taking part in my primary school swimming lessons in year four but I never enjoyed the classes and I was not confident in or near water. With the support of my tutor, I started to go to my local swimming pool and started to get used to the feel of the water. At the same time, I was learning the techniques to teach others to swim from the Institute of Swimming instructors. I took these methods and applied them to myself. I slowly grew in confidence. During my third year at university, I started to have group swimming lessons myself at the leisure centre that I now work in. I still continue to have lessons to improve my technique.”

Hamza continues: “I love to swim now. It is my ‘go-to’ exercise. I love how swimming makes me feel and how fit it keeps me. I love supporting the swimming teacher in the children’s swimming lessons at the leisure centre. It’s inspiring to think I am helping someone gain a valuable life skill that could potentially save someone’s life. It’s great to watch the children improve week by week.”

Hamza believes it is the work experience and applied vocational style of the Sheffield Hallam University’s courses that has helped him to gain meaningful employment. The applied nature of the degree has also encouraged him to take the next steps in his studies to further continue his career.

Hamza says: “I have no doubt my degree, in combination with my Level 1 Swimming Assistant qualification and work experience, helped secure my current jobs. The qualification has helped me with my confidence, my ability to manage behaviour, has helped with my voice projection in the classroom and gained me valuable experience of working with children and young people.

“I am a teaching assistant in a year five class at a primary school in Sheffield. The school is a challenging environment, with many of the children having English as their second language. I believe the coaching skills I learnt and the practical work experience have helped me to be confident and caring in a sometimes complex teaching landscape. I plan to continue building my sporting and teaching career and am hoping to complete my SEQ Level 2 Teaching Swimming qualification next year. I am also looking to study for my PGCE specialising in sport and fitness.

“Gaining my Level 2 Teaching Swimming Qualification will allow me to work as a swimming teacher whilst studying for my PGCE and it will also mean I am able to deliver a primary schools swimming lessons in line with the UK’s National Curriculum once I’ve qualified and gained employment as a primary school teacher.”