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I've changed careers to help break down a taboo and teach Asian women how to swim

When journalist Minreet Kaur was thinking about a career change, becoming a swimming teacher wasn’t initially at the forefront of her mind.

However, a friend suggested it would be the perfect job for Minreet to inspire Asian women to achieve a vital new life skill.

Here, Minreet shares her swimming journey – and why she hopes more will follow in her footsteps and help others learn how to swim.

Growing up, there was always a taboo around swimming.

I didn’t really see anyone who looked like me that was teaching swimming – and even in recent years not much has changed.

Culturally and traditionally, swimming hasn’t been a sport that’s been promoted to Asian women.

There are no Sikh swimming role models so of course it is not an activity that everyone wants to do.

Learn a new skill

So many people from my community do not know how to swim having never had lessons at a young age – yet as they get older, they do want to learn.

I learned how to swim as a youngster but I never took it seriously. It was only when I turned 40 last year that I began to notice the benefits of swimming from my mum, who loves it.

She is 71 now and she still swims nearly every day. She has built a strong core as it’s an all-over workout and it’s very low impact so it’s safe and good for mental health and anxiety.

It was a friend of mine who suggested I train to become a swimming teacher.

I was struggling to find work in the media industry and she said had I thought about teaching swimming as she had just learnt to swim later in life.

She said there are many Asian ladies who want to learn. I did some research and then left it for a while.

I then came across a swim challenge for Alzheimer’s Society which was five miles over 30 days. I just told myself I am going to do it in one week, and I ended up doing it in five days.

This then left me feeling boosted with energy and I thought well why not look into it a bit more and see what it takes to become a swimming teacher.

I did some research and I came across Triton Training. They offered bursaries to those who are not working and this enabled me to get the Swim England Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) Qualification under my belt.

My Swim England Level 2 Teaching Swimming Qualification is in February next year. A friend, Bob Singh, saw my journey and how I wanted to help Asian women to learn a new skill, so has offered to sponsor me for which I’m truly grateful.

The main reason I want to do this is because there is a national shortage of swimming teachers and Swim England is looking to increase the number of swimming teachers from diverse backgrounds.

So rewarding

I want others to feel inspired that if I can do it as a profession, so can they. I want to give back to my community and if they can see me doing this job, I am sure it will encourage many more.

I found the Level One qualification quite straightforward to complete and I loved learning the basics and core aquatics and movement in water. I really enjoyed assisting the teacher with the children, thinking of game and a skill the children could try.

I didn’t think I would pass and when I found out that I did, I was so happy.

I am now able to fit in teaching alongside my other commitments and the thing I love and find so rewarding is that I am teaching people a life skill which is so important.

Teaching swimming offers a lot of flexibility, so it can be something you do alongside another part-time job or full-time.

I am doing this as I want to have regular work from it, but down the line I may go back into doing more journalism or PR.

Swimming is a great skill and it offers so many health benefits.

My advice to anyone who is considering taking this up as a career is don’t wait because now is the time to become a teacher.

I’ve only been teaching for a short time but I’m proud to have helped four people learn to swim.

My experiences means I can relate to any fears the people I teach have and to help the Asian community learn how to swim is so rewarding.

It’s fair to say swimming has changed my life.