What to expect from your first swimming lesson and what you as parents can do to help.

Can you still remember your first swimming lessons?

Good or bad, swimming lessons can leave a lasting impression on a child. Are you planning your child’s first swimming lesson? If so, here are a few ways parents can make sure they have chosen a quality swim school.

Great swimming lessons mean a lifetime of fun in the water

Great swimming lessons can mean a lifetime of fun in the water!

A swimmer’s first lesson should be a fun, enjoyable and active experience. Everyone is apprehensive at the start of a new term and with an excellent teacher, a swimmer will be made of feel comfortable from the very beginning.

So how do you know if your child’s receiving quality teaching?

Here’s an easy way to find out…

You measure success by the happiness of the swimmers in the class.  Look at the other swimmers in the group – are they all quiet and miserable or are they excited, bubbly and enthusiastic? You’ll quickly have your answer.

Children are more alert and focused in fun swimming lessons which engage their enthusiasm and allow them to discover the water during play.

The key skills

The beginners’ lessons are all about these key skills and they are all interlinked:

Mobility – how the swimmers move around in the water, do they cling to the side or paddle boldly into the middle?

Water confidence – Do the swimmers cry out or flinch when they are splashed, can they put their faces in the water?

Buoyancy – Can the swimmers trust the water to support their weight? Do they hold themselves rigid like statues or are they relaxed to the point of falling asleep?

From the first lesson, your teacher begins to build up a series of good experiences around these skills. Each swimmer will feel engaged in the sessions and step-by-step, they learn the techniques necessary for a lifetime of wonderful swimming.

Needs and fears of each swimmer


Your teacher will understand the needs and fears of each swimmer. They will be able to tell when someone is apprehensive about an activity and they will encourage and reassure them. An excellent teacher will have many activities up their sleeves, so if one approach doesn’t work, they will try something else to engage the swimmer.

This stage is the most rewarding for your teacher – to make that breakthrough and see the swimmers achieve so much, it’s what swimming teaching is all about!

What parents can do

Be prepared…

These beginning stages cannot be rushed. It’s so important that swimmers feel comfortable and confident in the water and that means going at the pace of the swimmer. In some cases, this can take up to a year to achieve. If this process is pushed forward too quickly, it’s very likely the swimmer will lose their nerve and refuse to go. Sometimes it feels like ‘slow progress’ but it’s essential that you persevere as there are so many positive results to be gained from sticking with lessons.

Get wet – have fun…
Fun and games are essential for learning. Much more is gained from swimmers enjoying their time in the water than being fearful of it. New skills can be introduced through games and even the most cautious of swimmers can be caught up in the moment and forget their anxieties while a game is going on.

So don’t just rely on the lessons (however excellent they may be!)
Go swimming with your children, show them how much fun can be had and they will develop confidence and skills quickly with your boundless encouragement and gentle support.

Meet your new teacher, Emily Bignell

We’re delighted to welcome Emily to Swimcentral

Read about her experience, her passions and her swimming achievements here: Emily the swimming teacher

Sport has always played a significant role in my life. Growing up I was that girl who tried anything; football, netball, rock climbing, rowing… you name it, I’ve done it.

However, my one true love has always been swimming. At the age of 3 I began my first swimming lessons, and since the first time my feet touched the water, I have never looked back.

Competitive Swimming for Eastbourne

I loved being in the water, whether I was splashing around with my friends and family, or swimming lengths upon lengths on my own, nothing made me happier.

At the age of 8 I began to compete for Eastbourne Swimming Club. The competitions gave me a great amount of motivation to work hard and succeed, which eventually showed through as I competed at county and regional levels.

National Biathlon Champion!

Swimming provided me with the confidence and enthusiasm to compete in other sports, and at the age of 15 I became National Biathlon Champion! As well as this, I competed nationally in triathlon – an invaluable experience to say the least!

Sport has made me who I am today

These sports gave me a real in sight in to a range of values and skills such as discipline, time management, commitment, teamwork, pursuit of growth, feedback, communication and integrity.

Without sport throughout my childhood I wouldn’t be on the path I am on today. I hope to inspire and motivate the children I teach to value sport the way I have.

Swim coaching in Dubai

In 2014 I decided to embark on a new challenge. I moved to Dubai where I fulfilled the role of a PE Teacher, specialising in swim coaching.

Working with individuals from the age of 3 up to adults provided me with a vast amount of knowledge as I adapted sessions to suit the individuals. As long as they were happy and enjoyed being in the water, I was satisfied… although seeing them win a race was great too!

I loved the competitive edge the kids had. It was brilliant; not only see that they enjoyed the sport but also that they had the motivation to succeed in the pool. They put together all the skills they had learnt and got the times they had been working for.

What’s in store for Emily in 2016?

Now at the University Bath in my final year, I am looking forward to embarking on a new challenge as a swimming teacher for Swimcentral! “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work” – this motto has driven me to succeed in everything I do, and inspired me to become the best teacher I can be.

Every child needs to learn how to swim

Swimming in the seaIn my own opinion every child needs to learn how to swim. Growing up by the seaside was what drove my parents to getting me lessons.

The Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) has recently released the results of its school swimming census, revealing that 45% of primary school children are unable to swim 25 metres, despite it being a national curriculum requirement.

Although there has been a vast improvement in school swimming over the years, as a swimming teacher myself I believe that more needs to be done to ensure all children at a primary level have the ability to swim and have the knowledge of how to keep themselves safe in and around the water.

And this is what Swimcentral is here to do!! We want to ensure that all children are provided with the opportunity to experience the water in a fun, enjoyable and safe environment. Bring your child down for a free trial to see what the lessons are all about. We would love to help and support your child through swimming!

E. Bignell
Swim Teacher

Want a happy swimmer? What the best swim schools actually do

We’d all like our children to grow up to be happy swimmers who relish the chance for a dip in the pool. We know that swimming lessons have a great impact on a child’s enjoyment of the water. So what do the best swim schools actually do?


The answer is simple…

Games, excitement and a chance to explore always gives your child a more pleasurable experience of swimming.

If your swim school gets it right, then your child’s enjoyment will last well into adult life.

Games have many social benefits too! For example:

• Learning new games aids cognitive and listening skills

• Games help shy children build intra-personal skills

• Interaction improves self-confidence

• Imaginative games allow children to express ideas, share with others.

A well-structured swim programme for everyone

In a well-structured swim programme, your child will be encouraged to develop their movement skills and build water confidence.

Their progress is regularly monitored and you will see the benefits of play-led learning in their increased confidence and willingness to try out new activities.

Other parents have seen how skills develop quickly with a games-based swimming lesson:

‘Rufus really enjoyed his swimming lesson, so thanks so much! I was amazed to see him having a go at everything, and he told me that his favourite thing about the lesson (other than playtime!) was when he put his face under the water….which I have never seen him do before so willingly!’ Caroline, Bath

Fun during lessons increases endorphins and helps children stay alert

Studies have shown that when children are actively engaged, they take in more of the lesson and can demonstrate what they have learnt for a long time afterwards.

Neurologist and educator Judy Willis explains that having fun triggers the release of endorphins which in turn make children more alert and receptive to the information that’s being offered.

‘The human brain and body responds positively to laughter with the release of endorphins, adrenaline and dopamine, and with increased breathing volume (more oxygen). When a lesson starts with humour, there is more alerting, and the subsequent information is attached to the positive emotional event as an event or flashbulb memory.’ (“Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher” (ASCD, 2006)

Exciting activities help those with nerves too!

Seeing other children enjoy themselves helps to relieve more anxious swimmers of their fears. By watching others enjoy themselves during a swimming lesson, nervous swimmers begin to allay their fears. If a child can be distracted from their fear of the water for just a moment, they begin to relax. The release of tension helps buoyancy no end and their water confidence takes a real boost!