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Swimming Teacher of the Year praises life-changing influence of her own teacher

Jo-Jo McQueen says a passion to impact the lives of children led to her being named Swim England’s Swimming Teacher of the Year for 2019.

As a child herself, Jo-Jo was told to avoid swimming due to the potential health and safety risks associated with her physical disabilities.

Thankfully, she received valuable support from a teacher – an experience which has inspired her career in the swimming industry.

Now the Swim Coordinator at Clements Hall Leisure Centre in Essex, Jo-Jo frequently visits local schools to promote the benefits of learning to swim.

“My school teacher at the time got me to join a club and things escalated from there,” Jo-Jo said.

“I ended up competing internationally, so I saw the huge difference that teaching and coaching can have on an individual and their whole life – not just their sport but their whole life.

“To be on the other side of that now means the world to me. It’s fantastic to have now succeeded on the other side.

“Even if it’s not been a great day, you just think about the massive difference you can be having on the childrens’ lives and the parents.

“You think about the positive things that can happen from the way you’re teaching them.”

Sushma Shah – a teacher at Everyone Active’s Hatch End Pool in Greater London – was named runner-up.

Sushma’s personalised training techniques and warm approach has earned her positive feedback from both students and parents.

Swimming for all

The Institute of Swimming are the Swim England Approved Training Centre Diversity Champions for 2019.

The organisation delivered courses over the last year which featured more than 900 cases where learners have declared a disability.

The Institute of Swimming recently set up a Level 1 course for ladies who may not otherwise be in a position to pursue a career in teaching swimming.

Head of Operations, Jenny Norvill, said: “Our communities are becoming more diverse and we want our swimming teaching workforce to reflect that.

“We’re looking at how we can do some niche courses to reflect that diversity across the workforce and get more role models for them to get into swimming.”

Janet Slack added: “We currently deliver to about 7,000 learners and that is getting more diverse.

“We need to make sure we are reaching all these people and there isn’t a barrier to them coming into swimming teaching, whether it’s cultural beliefs, language barriers, ability or disability.

“We’re working towards making sure it’s accessible for all.”

Aquability Training earned the runner-up award as a result of their work promoting inclusion and diversity.

Aquability, which delivers courses across Kent and London, has created an inclusive learning environment for learners and swimmers with and without special educational needs and/or disabilities.

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