Swim England

A nation swimming

Will shares swimming teacher journey and drive to return as he recovers from cancer

Swimming teacher Will Holden is back on poolside following a battle with cancer and explains why he can’t wait for a full-time return to the ‘wonderful atmosphere’.

Will has always had a love for the water having grown up on the Isle of Man and being surrounded by beautiful beaches.

As part of his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award during his school years, Will volunteered to assist children with special educational needs on trips to the swimming pool, and it was here that he discovered his love for teaching swimming.

In 2010, Will completed his Swim England Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) and Level 2 Teaching Swimming Qualifications and he has been a swimming teacher for the last 12 years.

On how he got into the role, he said: “I enjoyed helping my peers learn to swim so much, that a member of staff approached me and my mum and suggested the course that was taking place after the summer. I haven’t looked back since.

“I have worked for the Aqua Pearls Swim School on the Isle of Man for almost a decade and teach group swimming with them.

“I also do one-to-one lessons at Western Swimming Pool in my home town.”

Passion for teaching

Will was sadly diagnosed with stage four bulk Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer in May 2021.

After battling the disease, he is now in remission and starting to build up his fitness and energy levels.

He currently has a few teaching sessions a week and is hoping to increase his hours when he has recovered further.

“I will be looking to return to my full teaching hours as soon as possible, hopefully in April,” he added.

Will has a real drive to get back to teaching, and he reflects on how the last few years have been really hard on swimming teachers and the learners.

He said: “I feel that the last few years have been extremely difficult for all swim teachers around the British Isles and the world with the global pandemic.

“But our passion for teaching and drive will help students who have had months of swimming taken from them.”

As well as children having a gap in their lessons due to the pandemic, the industry is also dealing with a nationwide teacher shortage.

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

Work-life balance

Before Will was diagnosed he was working part-time as a swimming teacher which allowed him to also pursue his career as a fitness instructor.

The two jobs complement each other well as they require similar skill sets, such as teaching others and being personable.

He reflects on the flexibility of the teaching qualifications and the social benefits that come with working as a swimming teacher.

“The job is social and I have always had a brilliant supportive, encouraging atmosphere in the Aqua Pearls Swim School,” he said.

“Allowing me to travel and live in countries such as Sweden and Australia and return to teaching throughout my young adult life.”

Will gets a lot of enjoyment from teaching swimming and seeing his learners gain essential water skills and grow in confidence.

He also has a real passion for teaching and says it is ‘phenomenal’ how the skills he has developed have helped him grow in strength and confidence.

Will continued: “I enjoy the fun of the job, there’s such a wonderful atmosphere when you see your clients grow and become stronger and more confident in the water and in themselves.

“It’s such a rewarding career. There are so many directions you can go in or incorporate teaching into. The confidence and growth it builds in you is phenomenal.”

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