Swim England

A nation swimming

Tutor of the Year Carolyn aims to inspire new generation of swimming teachers

Swim England’s Tutor of the Year is aiming to encourage a new generation to become swimming teachers.

Carolyn Dawe received the accolade at the Swim England Teaching and Education Awards last November – which was ‘testament to her hard work and love of the sport’.

Despite pools currently being closed across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic, Carolyn is still urging people to think about a career as a swimming teacher – and begin their training now.

Courses run by the Institute of Swimming are being adapted so the theoretical elements of the qualification or certificate can be completed online.

Manchester-based Carolyn, 35, delivers both the SEQ Level 1 and SEQ Level 2 Swimming Teacher courses, as well as CPD training and is currently upskilling to tutor the assistant coach certificate.

Although a career in swimming wasn’t initially top of her list, Carolyn quickly realised it was what she wanted to do.

“I didn’t plan to work in aquatics,” she said. “My university degrees gained me employment in resilience management and business continuity but something just didn’t sit right.

“I was starting to do more volunteering at national and regional swimming events and very slowly came to the realisation that I wanted to make swimming my career.

“Friends and family were shocked when I quit my job but I’ve never looked back.

I’ve gained so much from swimming

“I want to give back to the sport by encouraging and supporting the next generation of swimming teachers – giving those instructors the skills, knowledge and confidence to inspire future swimmers.”

Carolyn became a Swim England Tutor in 2016 after running swimming lessons for both children and adults for many years.

“It’s the job I always wanted,” she said. “I love being poolside and I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I always try to bring the best out in my trainee swimming teachers.”

“I encourage the learners to imagine that when you put on your swimming teacher uniform, you are putting on a costume.

“This costume allows you to be louder, brighter, braver and goofier than you might normally be.

“Teaching isn’t just about learning the technicalities of a swimming stroke, it’s about delivering lessons that children will respond to.

“Throughout my life I have gained so much from swimming – from learning to swim, joining a club, teaching, coaching and volunteering.

“I have learnt how to lead, how to work in a team, how to plan and prepare. I’ve made so many friends and even met my partner through the sport.

“Swimming feels like home.”

Carolyn’s top three tips for trainee swimming teachers

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask a question or say you don’t understand. There are such a range of learners who come on the courses, all ages, backgrounds and career paths. Everyone will have had a different experience and knowledge base. There is no such thing as a stupid question. We are there to support and help you develop.
  2. The more shadowing or assisting you can do of a range of teachers or coaches prior to your course the better. Shadowing or assisting gets you into the pool environment, seeing the flow of lessons and picking up ideas.
  3. There will be homework and coursework outside of the course hours, especially on a Level Two course. Make sure you plan time into your diary for this. The last thing you want to do is be rushing at the end or handing things in late, as this just delays feedback from the tutors to help you.