Katrice, 40, has always been involved with swimming, from learning to swim as a child and then swimming competitively at her local club.
Katrice started to help the coaches at her swimming club when she was 14 and went on to get her SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) qualification when she was 16 and later on her SEQ Level 2. Her club actively encouraged her to do the qualifications as it would help to fund her further studies and degree. Katrice says:
“I’m passionate about swimming and really enjoy teaching as it gives me a hands-on opportunity to share this love. Swimming always makes me feel great and I think it’s important that everyone has the opportunity to learn to swim.
“My favourite thing about teaching swimming is watching each pupil progress, be that a child, an adult learner or someone with disabilities. It’s great to be able to build trust with your learners and see how that develops their swimming confidence. Some pupils when they first start, especially adults who may have built up preconceptions, can be very nervous, and it’s amazing to see their swimming confidence progress and to follow and nurture their swimming journey.
“I also love knowing that I am teaching a skill that could potentially save their life. Not everyone gets to do that every day!”
Katrice, who is half Jamaican, is committed to increasing the representation of black and Asian people in the industry. She says:
“Throughout my life I have always been aware that there weren’t many swimmers or teachers that looked like me. I can see daily how unrepresented black and Asian people are and I know many adults from these communities that are terrified of swimming too. When I speak to people from my community I’m always surprised how many, especially adults, can’t swim and have never had lessons. I’m a great believer that if you ‘can’t see it, you can’t be it’ and it’s vital that swimming increases its representation poolside. I know it is important that I am seen teaching swimming, and I am proud to be a role model, especially for the young kids, to prove that everyone can swim, no matter what your background; the water truly is for everyone.”
Katrice is a member of the Leicester Black Teachers Group and runs a Facebook support group called ‘Black Swim Teachers Network’ for swim teachers and coaches of the black communities including African, Asian and Caribbean. More recently, Katrice has launched a swim group called Afro Aquatics in Leicester, which is providing specialist sessions for people from the Afro Caribbean and Asian communities. Katrice says:
“Afro Aquatics wants to empower diverse communities to swim regularly, improve confidence and water safety skills and support each other to maintain wellbeing, as well as saving lives. Afro Aquatics has had some really positive results, having organised women-only adult tuition sessions, which we held in a private pool away from the general public. We are finding that the women are growing in confidence being surrounded by likeminded people who, like them, might be nervous. A real camaraderie has grown amongst the group, which is wonderful to see.
“I’m hopeful that initiatives like these will create a strong pathway for people from diverse backgrounds to enter the sector as swimming teachers.”
“If you are thinking of becoming a swimming teacher, go to a local pool and talk to the staff there as there are loads of opportunities, which are often funded, to retrain. The Institute of Swimming and staff at a local centres will support you. Don’t worry if you are from a diverse background, just go and talk to people, you will have a warm welcome.”