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What makes a swimming teacher great?

Updated: Feb 8

1. Qualified.  Having a swimming teaching qualification means a teacher has demonstrated their competency for teaching swimming by undertaking tests and exams.  In the UK, there are 4 major awarding bodies from which teachers can receive their swimming teaching qualifications.  These are Scottish SwimmingSwim England, Swim Wales and Swim Ireland (formerly the ASA) and Safety Training Awards (the STA). However, around the world, there are many other awarding bodies which provide excellent swimming teacher training programmes and their qualifications are internationally recognised.

2. Experience.  Choosing the right swimming teacher is a pivotal part for your learning.  Generally, a good teacher has dedicated plenty of time and energy into their work.  Being successful at imparting the relevant skills to participants across a variety of abilities and ages requires a diverse range of communication and teaching tools.  For example, if an exercise is not working in a lesson (too hard / too easy), a good teacher should be able to use their experience, knowledge and creativity to implement changes.  It takes many years of practice to get good at teaching swimming. 

3. Knowledge.  Having a swimming teaching qualification is the absolute bare minimum requirement in order to be able to teach swimming.  A good teacher is not just qualified, they are also knowledgeable. In fact, a truly excellent teacher is qualified, experienced and knowledgeable in a variety of different areas within aquatics – ranging from pool and open water swimming to diving and water polo to parent / child teaching and teaching people with disabilities.  They also have the skills and ability to teach diverse groups.  A great teacher will be part of a swimming teaching community and is always seeking to gain more knowledge and experience and to exchange ideas with other teachers.

4. Patience.  Teaching swimming is a practice of patience, and repetition.  Every swimmer is different and the pace of learning swimming is highly dependent on age, personality and how much water exposure they have had before starting formal lessons.  A good teacher will know all of this.  Whether you are learning to put your face in the water for the first time or swimming a hundred lengths, a good teacher will be by your side offering encouragement and compassion.  

5. Professionalism.  A good teacher keeps regular records of their classes and has a plan for what needs to be achieved over a single lesson, as well as during as a block of lessons. They know how to set goals for different classes based on different abilities and ages, and they know what exercises and drills they need to implement to achieve their goals.

6. Humour.  Having a good sense of humour is an integral part of being a good swimming teacher.  It comes with the territory, spending so much time in the water is fun!  Teaching swimming is more than just giving verbal instructions to learners and managing a crowd.  It’s about motivating each swimming, providing feedback at key points within lessons.  Every activity in the lesson should be fun, purposeful and should be used to help the swimmers work towards achieving a goal.