Swim England’s top tutor talks about her career and gives her tips on training to be a swimming teacher

Carolyn, 35, is this year’s Swim England Tutor of the Year. Her career in aquatics is a testament to her hard work and love of the sport.

Carolyn delivers both the SEQ Level 1 and SEQ Level 2 Swimming Teacher courses, as well as CPD training and is currently upskilling to tutor the assistant coach certificate. Based in Manchester, Carolyn is delivering most of her courses around the North of England. Her job as a tutor is varied, busy and, according to Carolyn, lots of fun.

Carolyn, who’s described by her peers as being fun, enthusiastic, supportive, passionate and thorough, says:

“I want to give back to the sport by encouraging and supporting the next generation of swimming teachers; giving those instructors the skills, knowledge and confidence to inspire future swimmers.”

As a young woman, Carolyn swam for Neston Swimming Club and during this time became a lifeguard, further upskilling to gain her SEQ Level One aged 17 and her SEQ Level Two aged 20.

She says: “I didn’t plan to work in aquatics, my university degrees gained me employment in resilience management and business continuity, but something just didn’t sit right.  I was starting to do more volunteering at national and regional swimming events, and very slowly came to the realisation that I wanted to make swimming my career. Friends and family were shocked when I quit my job, but I’ve never looked back.”

Carolyn taught children and adult swimming lessons in the Manchester area for many years, before taking on a Swim England tutor role in 2016. She says:

“It’s the job I always wanted. I love being poolside and I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I always try to bring the best out in my trainee swimming teachers.”

Carolyn really enjoys being in front of the classroom and leads by example. Being the daughter of school teachers, she feels educating others is in her DNA, having essentially grown up in the back of the classroom. However, she is very aware that not all trainee swimming teachers have this confidence and her ability to develop trainees’ self-belief has been recognised and is just one of the reasons behind her Swim England Tutor of the Year accolade.

Carolyn says: “I encourage the learners to imagine that when you put on your swimming teacher uniform, you are putting on a costume. This costume allows you to be louder, brighter, braver and goofier than you might normally be. Teaching isn’t just about learning the technicalities of a swimming stroke, it’s about delivering lessons that children will respond to.”

Top tips for trainee swimming teachers

Here are Carolyn’s top tips for those looking to train as a swimming teacher:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask a question or say you don’t understand. There are such a range of learners who come on the courses, all ages, backgrounds and career paths. Everyone will have had a different experience and knowledge base. There is no such thing as a stupid question. We are there to support and help you develop.
  • The more shadowing or assisting you can do of a range of teachers or coaches prior to your course the better. Shadowing or assisting gets you into the pool environment, seeing the flow of lessons and picking up ideas.
  • There will be homework and coursework outside of the course hours, especially on a Level Two course. Make sure you plan time into your diary for this. The last thing you want to do is be rushing at the end or handing things in late, as this just delays feedback from the tutors to help you.

Carolyn’s passion for swimming inspires her every day.  She says:

“Throughout my life I have gained so much from swimming; from learning to swim, joining a club, teaching, coaching and volunteering. I have learnt how to lead, how to work in a team, how to plan and prepare.  I’ve made so many friends and even met my partner through the sport. Swimming feels like home.”