Peta, 55, has more than 17 years’ experience as a swimming teacher. It’s a career she fell into, but she’s never looked back.
Peta says: “Before having my three children, I worked as a PA in advertising. It was a career I loved, but when my kids came along my priorities changed.
“I wanted to be a mum who was there to collect them from the school gates, and my previous role just didn’t fit in with my family life.
“I had a friend that ran a swim school who said to me, ‘you enjoy swimming and you’re good with children, have you ever thought about being a swimming teacher?’ It was something I hadn’t even considered. But my friend encouraged me and in 2003 I completed my SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant course and started assisting my friend in some of her lessons. It was good for me to gain confidence at being with non-swimmers in the pool as a Swimming Assistant, plus allowed me to watch and learn from the qualified teachers around me.”
A few years later, Peta completed her SEQ Level 2 Teaching Swimming qualification and started working at the David Lloyd Club in Sudbury Hill; and has been there ever since.
“I absolutely love being a swimming teacher and have taught in every scenario, be that group classes, adult lessons, 1:2:1 sessions, national curriculum school swimming, pupils with disability, and people coming back from injury. It’s such a rewarding job to watch a non-swimmer gaining their confidence in water.”
“The job has fitted around my family life perfectly. When my children were smaller, a lot of my hours were at the weekend or during the school day, and as my kids have grown up, I can now do the ‘after school’ hours.
“What’s wonderful is that my job has grown with me, as I am now the Swim School Coordinator for David Lloyd. This means that on top of my ‘teaching hours’ I also manage their swim school, with a lot of administration, assessments, dealing with parents, scheduling and coordination. Even so, my job is still very flexible. It’s not a traditional nine to five role, and I currently work around 25 hours a week. Which is perfect for me.”
Peta says: “Being a swimming teacher is hard work. Ultimately I’m responsible for the health and safety of all my pupils, and that requires a lot of concentration and discipline. It’s also a physical job too; you can get cold in the water and you do have to raise your voice. But for me, when I think about swimming teaching, you must have the ability to develop a rapport with your students and to have empathy and understanding. You need to be able to communicate with children and deliver engaging classes.”
“An expert swimmer doesn’t necessarily make a good swimming teacher.”
“I also enjoy my adult swimming lessons – working with adult non-swimmers has its own challenges but they are always very committed to their individual swimming goals. When teaching adults you need to be more adaptable. For example, I had one student who had damage to the left side of her body due to cancer in her lymph glands – we knew her swim stroke would never be ‘elegant’ in the traditional sense, but we adapted the stroke for her to be able to swim confidently. It was wonderful to see. Also, when working with adults, you tend to become a trusted adult, and you need to be a good listener.”
“Even after 17 years, I still love being in the pool and teaching people to swim. There’s just so much fun to be had, and I do love my little duckling classes for the pre-school children – there’s always lots of singing!”
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