Mark changed careers and now loves combining being a swimming teacher and the main carer for his family

Mark Burns, 49, is a stay-at-home dad who was working part-time in a call centre before undertaking his SEQ Level 1 and 2 Swimming Teacher training through one of our Swimming Teacher Recruitment Academies. He recently won a year’s free training and membership with the Institute of Swimming, after entering a ‘why teach swimming’ competition, sharing his story to inspire others to take up the profession.Portrait Swimming Teacher Story Mark

Making a change

Mark says: “I am totally new to teaching swimming. Prior to this I worked as a manager for a FTSE 20 company, but about five years ago I was worn out; work was not good for my wellbeing or for my family.

I knew something had to change and I decided to leave my career and become the main carer for my family. My wife and I did a career switch and she became the full-time breadwinner. It was lovely to be with my children after so much time focused on work, and since then I’ve had various part time jobs to help top up our family outgoings.

“Before training to be a swimming teacher I was working part-time in a mobile phone call centre, but as this work switched to ‘home working’ during the pandemic I enjoyed the job less and less. Working at home, I missed the camaraderie of the call centre and once again I started looking for other opportunities. During this time, I saw an advertisement on the Indeed website to train to become a swimming teacher. I’m not sure why I decided to send my CV, but I am glad I did.”

Joining the Academy

Mark went through the application process and in December 2021 started his Combined SEQ Level 1 and Level 2 Swimming Teaching Qualifications. The qualification was a mixture of online training as well as practical sessions and mentorship with experienced swimming teachers. Mark was qualified and leading his own classes by the end of January 2022.

He says: “I absolutely loved the training, and really enjoyed the mentorship given and the confidence it gave me. The hours of poolside shadowing really gave me the experience to start my swimming teacher career poolside-ready.”

“Now I’m qualified and teaching I’m finding it such a lovely job. I love to watch the children progress. It’s great not to be stuck behind a desk and I’ve recently given up my other part-time job to concentrate on my swimming role.”

Mark currently works at two leisure centres with Leicester City Council. He is contracted for thirteen hours a week, but picks up additional cover shifts too. He says:

“I worked out that I am able to earn more in one morning shift teaching swimming at weekends than I could in a full day of work including bonuses at the call centre. And best of all, I’m much happier – even my children agree! I wish I had become a swimming teacher sooner! My children love to swim and I am passionate about sharing my knowledge further afield.”

Water safety is paramount

Mark, who grew up in the North East of Scotland in the fishing town of Fraserburgh, says: “Growing up by the sea, water was always very important. There is a big fishing and surfing community in Fraserburgh and water safety is paramount to the people that live there. This has always made me respect water and understand the value of learning to swim; becoming a swimming teacher has reinforced this.”

“It has made me more aware than ever, especially during my school swimming sessions (as part of the National Curriculum), that so many children never experience swimming in their childhood. I am acutely aware that these children, who miss out through no fault of their own, will only get to engage with the water with me, their teacher.”

Mark is delighted to have won a year’s free training. He says: “There are so many courses available. I’ve already completed my Swim England Safeguarding CPD and am in the process of doing the stroke corrections courses. In the future, I want to look at sculling technique, assistant coaching and open water. I can already see how these CPD’s will benefit my teaching and extend my career opportunities, as I’d love to do some swimming coaching and get involved with local open swimming clubs.”

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