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Have you listened to our LoveSwimming Podcast yet? Hosted by Community Ambassador Clive Marquis, each episode contains expert tips on how to manage and grow your Swim Club or Swim School. Listen to all episodes for free on Spotify.

This article covers Clive’s interview with Jo Corben from Aqua Academy, a small-medium-size private academy based in Gosport.

They discuss:

  • What learning to swim means for Aqua Academy
  • Why learning to swim is important for kids
  • Tips on how to create an enjoyable learning environment
  • How to increase retention rates with continuity
  • The impact Covid-19 has had on the school

What does learning to swim mean?

Aqua Academy is located on a peninsula surrounded by water and close to the sea. Being able to swim in an area like Gosport is essential. “We see a lot of families enjoying the seaside”, says Jo. “It is our job to make sure that those children are educated and safe around the water.”

Swimming safely, even though it’s a vital skill, is also a way of life. “Learning to swim for us is learning to save yourself”, Jo states. “But it’s also about enjoying the water and making swimming part of your life.”

Why is learning to swim important for kids?

Jo wants everyone – both children and adults – to enjoy the water safely. This is so if they practice any water sports and fall in, they know how to save themselves and what to do.

Jo believes the key elements for learning to swim are:

  1. Being educated about the water
  2. Feeling safe when going into the water
  3. Learning how to save themselves and what to do

How to bring enjoyment during swimming lessons

The easiest way for children to learn to swim is to have fun at the same time. “We are teaching them to enjoy the feeling of the water so it needs to be fun,” explains Jo.

Making swimming fun is also the most effective way to get children to want to progress their skills.

Jo’s tips for making swimming lessons enjoyable for everyone are:

  • Keep numbers small – “We only have four non-swimmers in a class, so that makes it more intimate”
  • Be friendly and personable – “It’s easier to know them individually if it’s a reduced group”
  • Make learning fun – “Combine teaching with games to help children learn important skills”

Jo also suggests offering classes that cater to different age groups, so you can ensure high retention rates.

“We offer continuity from when they are small children to school age lessons. Offering that continuity helps with high retention numbers because the parents can see that progression.”

How Aqua Academy offers personable classes

Leisure centres are often the first place people think of when they consider swimming lessons. They tend to cater for larger groups of people and are often cheaper.

“We have a lot of children coming from a leisure centre background because parents have been frustrated with classes being bigger and the teachers are on the side of the pool, not in the water”, explains Jo. “Because we have limited classes, the improvement is faster. People come to us because we offer a service that is more intimate and familiar.”

And thanks to the small numbers and clear continuity path offered at Aqua Academy, coaches get to witness the impact of their teaching.

“Some of those children end up going into a club and going to nationals. You can see that swimming journey and we’ve been part of it. That’s getting to know them and knowing what each child responds to and their learning speed. Some of these people have gone and achieved a teaching qualification and come to work for us.”

The effect of Covid-19 on Aqua Academy

As with all sports facilities, Covid-19 has affected the way Aqua Academy operates. Next to sanitising the building between lessons, teaching times have been reduced, while the hours became longer.

Despite an initial dip in numbers, things seem to be looking up now. “People are feeling more positive now and we are completely inundated with enquiries and a long waiting list”, says Jo.

Covid-19 regulations have also initiated some positive changes. Aqua Academy introduced a one-way system around the poolside to stop people from crossing over. “It has made more effective the process of going from one lesson to another.”

What we’ve learned

  • Learning to swim is an important step in a child’s development. Knowing how to behave in the water is crucial for safe swimming and water sports
  • Private swimming academies like Aqua Academy understand this importance and offer a learning environment that is enjoyable, intimate and progressive.
  • By offering continuity throughout the swimming learning journey, retention rates remain high

Find out how LoveAdmin can help your swim school

This article was based on a podcast hosted by Clive Marquis, LoveSwimming Community Ambassador, and his guest Jo Corben, who runs Aqua Academy. Keep up-to-date with all the insightful content our Community Ambassadors create by joining one of our Community Groups on Facebook.

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