Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

The benefits of teaching from the poolside

The article below provides an outline of the advantages of teaching from the poolside and how this can benefit both the teacher and learners in the swimming lesson.

When a teacher is responsible for delivering a group lesson, the recommended teaching position is from the side of the pool. This gives the teacher the best position to oversee the whole group.

It is safer and gives them a better position to provide feedback on the performance of each learner in the group.

The poolside positioning of a teacher also provides them with an optimal space to give accurate demonstrations that can be viewed clearly by the learners.

Swim England suggests best-practice for group lessons is the use of a Level 1 Swimming Assistant in the water providing correct manual support where applicable, in addition to a Level 2 Swimming Teacher delivering from the poolside.

Swim England recognises the use of a swimming assistant isn’t always an option and, in these scenarios, the safest position for a swimming teacher is to remain on the poolside for the safety of the learners.

However, risk assessments can be used to take into consideration the experience of the teacher, ability, ratio of the learners, pool set-up, and lifeguards.

In the scenario that a teacher is delivering from in the water independently (with the correct risk assessment), their lifesaving abilities are decreased.

There are numerous benefits to swimming teachers delivering from the poolside:

  • It is easier to observe the whole group which leads to a safer environment and reduced risk of accidents.
  • Multiple options for varied teaching positions, providing the teacher with a continuous view of the learners and optimal position to provide accurate demonstrations.
  • Unnecessary manual support for learners whilst teaching from poolside. Manual support isn’t always needed for the improvement of a learner’s skill or stroke and can lead to manual manipulation of the learner’s limbs, which isn’t necessary.
  • Varied communication methods including verbal and non-verbal actions, examples including demonstrations, flashcards and the management of emergency situations.
  • Safer environment to welcome and register learners.
  • Improved class behaviour management.

Swim England believes that a competent and high-quality swimming teacher should also be friendly and approachable.

By following the above approach, the lesson provider will maximise the progress and support that can be given to any child learning to swim without placing themselves in any unnecessary risk. 

Mark Haslam from Places Leisure says,

“We always aim to ensure our swimming lessons are of the best quality possible for our customers. Having our Level 2 teachers on the poolside allows them the best view of the lessons enabling them to control and give effective feedback for the swimmers to improve.

“They can easily view all the participants at all times to ensure everyone is kept safe while delivering fun activities, which improve the children’s skills.”

Brad and Carol from Aqua Aims Swim School also agree,

“As a Swim School, we have asked all of our teachers to instruct their classes from the poolside.

“We feel that this gives the teachers a far better command of the class group.  Enabling us to ensure that our swimmers are safe, that they are all performing the correct practices in the right way and can all hear and see our verbal and visual instructions.

“From a safeguarding and professional point of view, we feel it is better for teachers to maintain that visible professional distance from individual swimmers and this can be performed far better if out of the water.

 “We feel it’s a far greater benefit all round for our swimmers who then build on their own independence in the water, which helps them to understand their own capabilities and helps push them to “have a go” independently under safe instruction.”

Julie, Level 2 Swimming teacher says,

“As a teacher for over 26 years, I was terrified when Covid-19 hit and I had to teach from the poolside.

“However, the kids responded much better than I anticipated.

Being above the class gives a better perspective when observing body position. Plus I could spot misbehaving straight away and nip it in the bud, so class behaviour improved”

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