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Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimming teacher qualifications ‘such a huge benefit’

Olympian Siobhan-Marie O’Connor says having her swimming teacher qualifications will be ‘such a huge benefit’ as she adapts to life as a retired athlete.

The 26-year-old was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2012 but continued to have a successful career until taking the difficult decision to retire in June 2021 due to her condition.

Although she says she is still ‘finding her feet’ with retirement, O’Connor is currently completing her Swim England Qualifications Level 2 Swimming Teaching training as it ‘opens so many doors to possibilities’.

New statistics from Swim England have found that the national swimming teacher shortage, which was exasperated by the pandemic, stands at more than 6,200 swimming teachers.

This means that approximately 500,000 children could be missing out on learning a vital life skill.

The Rio 2016 silver medallist says it is important that we don’t miss out on that generation of swimmers which have been affected by the pandemic, as she explains why she is taking her qualifications.

Encourage more people to swim

O’Connor said: “Although I’ve been swimming for years, I just want to know how to deliver lessons and coach in the best way possible.

“It’s been quite a long time since I learned to swim or covered the fundamentals of the strokes.

“I just think it’s going to be such a huge benefit to be able to have the qualifications and to be able to hopefully then deliver sessions.

“It’s going to give me loads of skills that I can hopefully transfer and encourage more people to swim and get in the water, whether it’s young kids that want to improve or adults that are looking to improve their swimming or do triathlons – there’s so many different reasons to swim.”

The world, European and Commonwealth gold medallist is passionate about swimming and hopes to stay involved with the sport as much as she can following her retirement.

Rewarding thing to do

O’Connor revealed that she was ‘very excited’ to be taking the courses and improving her knowledge.

“It’s such a rewarding thing to do” she added. “That’s my favourite part of swimming is that participation level.

“I loved competing at elite level but I do think one of the best things about swimming is that anyone of any age can do it.

“It’s fantastic for your mental health, it’s fantastic for your physical health – it’s an all-round exercise and a sport that I think is unlike any other.

“It’s also a life skill – you’re giving someone a skill for life. There’s not many sports where it has such a huge benefit.”

If you are interested in taking your swimming teacher qualifications, you can find out more by visiting the Institute of Swimming website.

Or, sign up today and you will be sent everything you need to know about starting your career in teaching swimming.

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