From finance to the swimming pool: Andy’s second career

Andy, 56, from Maldon in Essex, is training to become a swimming teacher, which he says is giving him focus and self-value in his next stage of life, following early retirement after a 37-year career in finance at Ford Motors Company.

Andy explains:

“Back in August 2023 I took voluntary early retirement from a career I loved. I worked in the finance department at Ford for most of my adult life, starting there as an apprentice aged 18. It was a career that took me around the world, as I was promoted into different roles and locations, and even seconded to Mazda for a period.

“I retired on a Thursday and by Saturday of the same week I was already thinking ‘what next’!  I was fortunate to get a healthy pension and my wife had taken retirement too. However, over the first few months of retirement I missed work and felt very unstructured. As the evenings got darker and colder as winter set in, it felt like our lives got smaller.

“I started working at a supermarket, stacking shelves for the Christmas season. I was working 22 hours a week over a few evenings, and after Christmas the job became permanent – I’m still there.  Whilst the work was physically demanding and interacting with customers was a new challenge, I still felt I had more to give and so when my brother-in-law, who is a manager at a local leisure centre, spoke to me about the possibility of becoming a swimming teacher I was immediately interested. It was a light bulb moment for me!

“During the last few years, for my own health and wellbeing, swimming has become a real lifeline for me. I go to the pool most mornings before work to swim for pleasure. I’m an enthusiastic swimmer; it brings me so much joy, and the idea of sharing my passion was something I felt compelled to do. Swimming is a gift that everyone should have the opportunity to learn.

“I started my Level One Swimming Assistant (Teaching) course with the Institute of Swimming. It was a blended course, with a combination of both online and in-person training. I found the training very accessible; it helped me think about the difference between being a keen swimmer as a hobby and becoming a good swimming teacher! The training looks at lesson planning, recognising different skill levels, how to make adaptations, and really focuses the mind on how to teach. I passed the Swim England Qualification and immediately started working as a Swimming Teacher Assistant at my local pool, working with both children and adults learning to swim.

“It’s great being a swimming teacher assistant. I’m constantly inspired by the Level Two swimming (fully qualified) teachers, and working by their side, as their mentee, is a great way to learn how to be a brilliant teacher.”

Andy is taking his Level 2 qualification to become a fully qualified swimming teacher later this year and intends to amend his hours at the supermarket to take on more swimming teaching work.

“Teaching people to swim is an incredibly rewarding job and has a lot of variety, especially when you are teaching both children and adults with different abilities, personalities and goals. Making adjustments and having a flexible approach is crucial to delivering good lessons, and it’s great to watch people progress and to see their confidence develop. I always leave my swimming assistant teaching job with a spring in my step.

“Retiring is a privilege, however, it’s so important not to lose yourself when you retire. Teaching swimming gives me structure, stretch, purpose and tremendous job satisfaction, all the things I missed when I gave up my career at Ford.

“I would absolutely recommend it to other retirees, as it’s a great way to have a fuller life and to learn new skills. Plus, the hours are flexible, so it’s not a huge time commitment, and it helps to top up my pension too!”