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Half a million to miss 'confidence and life skills' due to swimming teacher shortage

As the country prepares for a huge summer of sport with a home Commonwealth Games, half a million children are going to miss out on the chance to learn to swim, warns Swim England.

With the demand for swimming lessons increasing, the nationwide shortage of swimming teachers, which was exasperated by the pandemic, is now at more than 6,200.

Although the number needed has reduced since last summer thanks to new training opportunities from organisations like the Institute of Swimming, the problem is still a vast one.

Olympic silver medal-winning swimmer Siobhan-Marie O’Connor, who is currently completing her Swim England Qualifications Level 2 Swimming Teaching training, has revealed that even had she not gone on to achieve what she did within the sport, she would still be ‘so grateful’ for the fact she began swimming.

She explained how she gained ‘confidence and life skills’ from the sport, something which almost half a million youngsters may miss out on.

O’Connor said: “I just completely fell in love with it from such a young age. I never really had a great time at primary school, I remember vividly that I wasn’t very confident as a kid and I don’t really know why.

“When I started swimming I was just so excited to go after school and I made all these friends that I didn’t have at school.

“I’d look forward to galas at the weekend and initially it was never my dream to be an Olympic swimmer, I just loved being in the water and competing with my friends.

“It’s just incredible, even if I never really achieved what I did, I would still be so grateful for the fact that I started swimming and I had those amazing memories as a young kid and what it did for me in terms of confidence and life skills.”

Breaking down the barriers

On National Careers Week, Swim England is reigniting its calls for more people to consider a role in the sector.

The national governing body surveyed swimming pool operators, owners and swim schools and found more than four in five (84 per cent) are still struggling to meet the demand for swimming lessons – almost 12 months after pools reopened.

The Institute of Swimming, supported by Swim England, have recently introduced recruitment academies to reduce the financial barrier of training; working with pool owners and operators to provide and access to funding.

The academies now offer the chance to train to become a swimming teacher for just £79, with other funding opportunities also available.

Institute of Swimming managing director, Rebecca Cox, says the work done so far has had a ‘positive impact’, but there’s still a lot more to be done.

She said: “It is important that we address the nationwide shortage of swimming teachers to prevent a generation missing out on the opportunity to learn to swim.

“We have started to break down the barriers through the launch of the recruitment academies which allow people to gain industry-leading qualifications at a reduced cost.

“This work has had a positive impact on the number of swimming teachers that are required.

“We are also working with the sector to increase the level of pay for swimming teachers, which will further help to both retain and recruit more people.”

If you are interested in becoming a swimming teacher, 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.