Ones to watch at this year’s Commonwealth Games

Ross_DavenportWith what will be no doubt a very exciting Commonwealth Games just around the corner we recently spoke to Olympic and double gold Commonwealth Swimmer Ross Davenport to find out his top British swimmers to watch.

Ross’s Recommendations:

1) James Guy, England. The most talented freestyler Great Britain has seen in the past decade.

2) Ross Murdoch & Adam Peaty, Scotland & England. An extremely talented pair of Breaststrokers. They finished 2013 8th and 12th in the world for the 100m Breast Stroke.

3) Siobhan-Marie O’Conner, England. She’s currently ranked number 2 in the Commonwealth this year for the 200m Freestyle and also ranked number 2 in the World and Commonwealth for the 200 Individual Medley this year.

4) Aimee Wilmott, England-Currently ranked number one in the Commonwealth and number 3 in the World for the 400m Individual Medley

5) Jazz Carlin, Wales – has come back extremely strong after illness and injury in 2012. Missed the Olympics but is currently ranked 2nd in the Commonwealth for 400m Freestyle and Number 1 in the World for the 800m Freestyle.

To find out more about who will be competing in this year’s games and to see the competition schedule please visit the Glasgow 2014 website.  

RAPs Member Paula Chandler takes part in the Great North Swim


We recently spoke with RAPs member Paula Chandler as she embarked on The Great North Swim to find out a bit more about her career journey, why she wanted to join RAPs , and her involvement in The Great North Swim.

I became interested in swimming back in 2001. It was my daughter’s Swimming Teacher, Judith Goodwin, who suggested that I should do my Swimming Qualifications. As soon as I had completed my Level 1 qualification she offered me a job working with her at Holmes Place Gym in Didsbury.  In 2005 I decided to do my level 2. Since then I have always been involved in Swimming, either teaching or timekeeping or judging at local galas for Trafford Metro Borough Swimming Club where both my daughters swim. In 2009 I myself took up swimming, an adult class for parents and tri athletes that did not want to compete in the Masters Section of the Club was created. I took on the administration role liaising with new members and before we knew it our section of the club had grown to over 40 members.

I have made many great friends through swimming and we have, as a group, participated in many Great North and Salford swims. We are so fortunate to have these on our doorstep. Windermere this year has been the warmest so far I just loved taking part in such a big event with a wide variety of swimmers having a great time.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.  Once I’ve got the start out of the way, and relax into my stroke I enjoyed the view and the atmosphere of such a great event.

I am the swimming teacher at St Ambrose College for Boys in Hale Barnes, we have a total new build with a new swimming pool, which is amazing.

All boys in year 7 and 8 together with GCSE PE pupils have a time tabled swimming lesson.
The whole school has an opportunity to swim lunchtimes or after school. We offer a variety of pool activities from improver/beginner classes, early morning teacher, squad training and water polo coaching. Rugby teams have swimming and circuit sessions in the pool to build their stamina. We have had many swimming galas where we have hosted most of them and all the visiting schools have been amazed at the facilities our boys have within the school. I have recently introduced, for the braver boys, open water swimming at Salford Quays on Wednesday nights.  They have really been enjoying the open water experience.  The boys love to hear what the teachers have been achieving in the pool and now open water swimming, as this year I managed to persuade 4 more teachers to join me at Windermere along with 11 of my Trafford Metro club swimmers. We all had such a great day at Windermere that over 20 friends have now booked for the Great Salford Swim in July, including both my daughters, Danielle and Emilie.  Danielle is a swimming teacher and coach while studying primary educations at MMU. We both teach together at LA Fitness.  Emilie is now 16 and is looking forward to doing her level 1 in July.

RAPs is important as it will ensure that all swimming teachers and coaches are all qualified to a high standard, and we will all receive ongoing professional development. This is very important for teachers like myself as we can ensure that we are maintaining our professional knowledge and skills that we have already achieved, whilst continuing our personal development. RAPs will ensure that all swimming professionals are under one organisation.

If you’re a RAPs member and would like to share your story then why not get in touch by emailing our marketing team? They’d love to hear from you, simply email

Swimming participation levels on the rise

swimmersRAPs is delighted with the news that over 2.9million adults are now taking part in swimming at least once a week.

Swimming has come out on top as the most popular sport people are participating in as part of Sport England’s Active People Survey which has revealed that more people are playing sport regularly than ever before.

As part of the wider Active People survey, the results, which cover April 2013-April 2014, show that the number of over-16s playing sport once a week, every week has risen to over 15.6 million, an increase of 180,000 in the last six months and 1.7million more than 2005 when London won the bid to host the Games. The largest growth has come from young people, with a record 3.9 million 16-25 year-olds playing sport regularly.

It’s always great to see high participation levels, but as Registered Aquatic Professionals we must ensure that safety is paramount when in the water.

If you’re looking to learn to swim why not have a look on our Members Directory where you’ll be able to search for a RAPs registered teacher? All of our swimming teachers meet the industry’s nationally recognised standards and are committed to ongoing education.

World’s Largest Swimming Event to take place 20th June

WLSLHoping to set a 5th Guinness World record, the world’s top water safety and training organisations, including our founding partners the STA and RLSS, are joining forces to present The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ (WLSL), Friday, 20th June, 2014. The event is all in aid of building awareness around the vital importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning.

On 20th June, waterparks, pools and other aquatic facilities around the globe will host local WLSL lessons simultaneously at 11am Eastern Standard Time (3pm GMT) in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record.

As we all understand swimming is a life-saving skill for children. It is a vital tool to prevent drowning, the second leading cause of unintended, injury-related death for children ages 1-14, which is why we strongly feel it’s important for swimming teachers to hold industry approved qualifications and to be committed to ongoing professional development.

The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ has been created to serve as a platform to help local aquatic facilities and the many different water-safety and drowning prevention organisations work together to tell this important story on a local and national level.

Our partners STA and RLSS are supporting this year’s event and we highly encourage our members to join in the effort by registering as an official WLSL Host Location. For more information, including a marketing pack and details on how to register your venue is available at

The event also coincides with the start of the RLSS’s annual Drowning Prevention Week, taking place on 21st June. The events going on throughout the week aim to raise awareness about the importance of swimming as a life-long skill, promoting water safety messages and help reduce incidents of drowning.

If you’re holding an event for The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson then we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us via our Facebook page or email

Swimming Teaching & Technology: ‘Watt’ you need to know

ipoolRAPs member Andrea Andrews gives us a follow up on her previous blog ‘Teaching Swimming in the 21st Century’.

As I have explained in my previous blog I can feel rather slow on the uptake when asked to use any new technology but I have noticed something interesting while using my waterproofed electronic iPod register device as a swimming teacher. My preschool students have become accustomed to ‘signing’ themselves present on the iPod register and the way they do this has been enlightening.

Some children are keen to show that they can nearly read or start to recognise the pattern of their own name on the class list that is displayed on the device. They enjoy identifying their name but then they may struggle to record the fact that they are present on the touch screen. This is intriguing and it tells me a number of things. Perhaps, they do not have electronic touch screen devices at home or their internal state of control renders them incapable of touching the exact point required with the correct amount of force and periodicity. Or perhaps they just need time to play with it?

Let me explain further, the device supplies the child’s name and a little white cross inside a red box to be touched if that learner is present, upon which it changes to a green box with a white tick inside it. If you press too hard, too long, too lightly or for too short a time the device does not register your touch and the red box/white cross stubbornly remains.

Once mastered, there is no problem because the device is no more difficult or easy to use than any other touch sensitive electronics and I have grown to enjoy the lack of wet paper and the time it saves. What I have discovered is that the nature of the ‘screen pressing’ by the little children tells me a great deal about their hidden nature and their concerns about being able to cope in the watery class. After all we are often sat on the side with our feet in the zero entry beach when we press the button and each child comes along with their own set of worries and excitement about what we will be doing and what is expected of them by their carers and peers.

So a child that may delight in recognising their name may fail to turn the red box into a green one because they want to emphasise that they can do something others can’t and are ‘strong’ even though they are feeling far from it in the water. This can therefore become an extended press as the child reasons that what is needed is time for the device to ‘feel’ the large amount of energy being used. So when that does not work the rationale turns to pressing too lightly and for too short a time. In the water that child struggles to engage with the water especially around their nose and eyes.

Another child cannot read their name and instead heads for the red box closest to their index finger. Pressing with utter nonchalance they turn it green to register someone else who is on holiday at the time. They had no axe to grind, pressing just right; present enough behind the finger; pressure-less.

Another child finds it hard to hold their index finger still for long enough to press the red box. The finger wanders at the tip, shaking and juddering as if connected to the tip of the tongue that is sticking out in concentration. This is an indication that their fine motor control is still developing or their parents have stretched their age to sign them up as soon as possible for swimming lessons.

In other words being able to exert the right amount of pressure, in the right place for the requisite length of time is a skill and it takes time for this to be mastered. All of the above children would master this skill if they had the time to play with the device like I did. What it also tells me is that we must not ask too much of our little children by expecting them to copy complex skills with their minds when all that is needed is for them to arrive at it through powerful emotive, exploratory play.

“If you give me your finger we can press the red boxes together…feel that? Oh someone else has arrived… oh, you aren’t listed on here…can you and Mummy take this box to Reception?”

Are you a swimming teacher who also uses the latest technology? Or do you prefer more traditional methods? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Get in touch with us via our Facebook page or why not drop us email to

RAPs ambassador and members to take part in The Great North Swim challenge

Great North Swim - Windermere - 2008


Taking place on the 13th – 15th of June in the stunning location of Lake Windermere, The Great North Swim is one of UK’s most popular open water swimming events and is part of the Great Swim series. The series is the biggest exhibition of open water swimming in the UK and is the perfect opportunity to swim in some perhaps more unusual locations ranging from national parks to urban waterways (not exactly your average pool!).

What’s fantastic about The Great North Swim is that it doesn’t matter too much on your ability. There are a range of distances to choose from including 1/2 mile, one mile, two miles and 5k courses, all in the safe hands of expert safety kayakers who are with you every stroke of the way. So whether you’re just starting your open water swimming journey or are at an elite level, there’s certainly something for everyone, including our ambassador, Olympic Medallist Steve Parry, who will be at this year’s Great North Swim with a few of our members also taking part.

RAPs Ambassador Steve Parry commented:

“I’m delighted to be at this years’ Great North Swim, it’s such a fantastic event to be involved with and I’m looking forward to being in a stunning location. What’s great about the Great Swim series is that it doesn’t matter on your ability, it’s about the taking part.”

With over 20,000 people taking part in the Great Swim Series last year this is certainly one event you won’t want to miss out. Even if you don’t fancy entering yourself, it’s still a great day out for all the family to go and watch as you’ll be able to enjoy all the exciting elite races featuring world class athletes, the farmer’s market and on site entertainment.

Date: 13 – 15 June 2014

Venue: Windermere, Lake District


½ mile: Entry £32 (£26.66 plus VAT 20%)

1 Mile: Entry £39 (£32.50 plus VAT 20%)

2 Miles: Entry £46 (£38.33 plus VAT 20%)

5km: Entry £46 (£38.33 plus VAT 20%)

The Great swim Series will also be holding training sessions prior to the Great North Swim on the 7th June at Brockhole Visitor Centre, Lake Windermere. 

The training sessions welcome all abilities and will allow you to progress at your own pace in preparation for your upcoming Great North Swim. The tailored training sessions are for beginners, intermediate and advanced swimmers and training leaders will be on hand at all times.

For more information about what the sessions will entail and how to get there click here.

If you are taking part, or even plan to, please let us know – just drop us a quick email here.

If you’d like to enter The Great North Swim or any other events in the Great Swim Series please visit the website.

Reading Lake Hotel to host Open Water Swimming Show on 26 April 2014

?????Open water swimming is how we all originally experienced the water but over the past century the growth of heated, sanitised indoor pools has convinced some people that open water is dirty and dangerous. The reality is that many swimmers are rediscovering the freedom and joy of swimming outside and the sport is becoming increasingly popular.

The Open Water Swimming Show is a unique opportunity to find out more about this fast growing activity, to hear from expert speakers, test out the latest kit and, for the more adventurous, take an early season dip.

The Open Water Swimming Show was first held in 2012, also at the Reading Lake Hotel, as the H2Open Day. After skipping 2013 it is returning in 2014 and expects to attract up to 500 visitors. This year, additional activities include an open water swimming master class, a core strength class and free coached sessions to give visitors a safe and enjoyable first experience of open water. Veteran open water swimmers are also catered for with a timed swim.

This year we’re hoping for better weather but persistent rain and 11 degree Celsius water didn’t put swimmers off in 2012.

The event has been created by H2Open Magazine, a specialist open water publication that launched in 2011.

Event details

  • Date: Saturday 26 April 2014
  • Doors open: 10:00
  • Exhibition ends: 18:00
  • Tickets: £15 in advance, £18 on the door


Reading Lake Hotel

Pingewood, Reading, West Berkshire RG30 3UN

More information

Open Water Show:

H2Open Magazine:

If you’d like to attend this weekend’s Open Water show for free please follow this link.

RAPs supports the Sri Lanka Women’s Swimming Project

I can swim

RAPs is delighted to be supporting the Sri Lanka Women’s Swimming Project, and welcome their staff on board as RAPs members.

Founded by Christina Fonfe after the 2004 tsunami, The Sri Lanka Women’s Swimming Project uniquely overcomes social and cultural issues to address the global drowning problem by giving free swimming lessons to women and teenage girls in complete privacy, on the premise that if they can swim, they will teach their children also.

The Project also gives free training to women swimmers to qualify them as Swimming Teachers to internationally recognised standards and helps them to find careers in teaching swimming as well as giving free lessons to those learning to swim with the project.

So how can this be achieved?

Their approach is to begin swimming training based on maximising survival. The project’s initial objective is to make the ability to float-and-breathe in a back-float for long periods the instinctive, default, zero-energy-expenditure, resting swim position for all our swimmers. In this way, they can guarantee themselves a clear airway immediately after any awkward entry and total submersion and can maintain this balanced and relaxed position effortlessly.

Unlike in the UK, the teachers involved in the project avoid calling their students swimmers and certificate them in stages as ‘Survivors’ for set lengths of time and distance until they can float for 10 minutes and swim 100 metres. At this point they get the ‘I can swim, Can you?‘ certificate, which effectively is a ‘Passport’ to safe swimming in any pool.

With the awareness that swimming in anything other than a clean, clear pool can bring on a rush of frightening new experiences which can overwhelm their limited skills, this project has invented a ‘Visa’ to cover swimming in the sea, which requires a 15 minute float and a 400m sea swim, plus exposure to waves, rocks and currents.

The overall aim is to make people feel safe in water so they can freely and safely enjoy the same benefits of swimming, which is currently enjoyed by most tourists.

“We believe making people safe in water calls for just as much professionalism as is it required to teach competitive swimming” said Christina Fonfe, Founder of The Sri Lanka Women’s Swimming Project.

Greg Small, Head of Memberships for RAPs had this to say about the project;

“We are delighted to be supporting such a worthy cause. It’s fantastic see to that this project is making a real impact to the lives of women and children in Sri Lanka, with over 2,000 women now being able to swim and we hope for this work to continue.

He continued to say, “RAPs is 100% behind the Sri Lanka Women’s Swimming Project  by ensuring that their staff are supported throughout their careers with on-going professional development through RAPs”.

The Project is the only non-state member of the International Federation of Swimming Teachers Associations, who’s UK Swimming Teacher Certificates are recognised internationally. The Project also gives training in Pool Maintenance, Pool Rescue, Resuscitation (CPR) and First-Aid.

The following women are now all part of the Register of Aquatic Professionals, and despite all the odds have managed impact the lives of others through swimming.

sumudu and induSumudu (right) and Indu (left)

Sumudu taught herself to swim in a crocodile infested lagoon and qualified with Indu, her cousin, who just won a severely contested state scholarship to read law and came to the project as a complete non-swimmer, within six months she too had qualified as a swimming teacher. Finally there is Sanduni who, with no school qualifications to speak of, was saved from a life in the garment factory by learning to swim with Christina at age 16 and went on at age 21 to become a Head of Juniors Swim Coach at an academy run by Sri Lanka’s only swimming Olympian, she is now in Abu Dhabi working at an all-female swim academy teaching Muslim women to swim.

To find out more about the project and the work Christina and her team are doing please visit

Swimming teacher wins iPad with RAPs


Throughout December last year some of you may remember we ran a competition for the chance to win an iPad for those who renewed their membership with RAPs. 

We are delighted to announce that swimming teacher Clare Bryant was our winner. We’d also like to thank Clare for renewing her membership!

We thought we’d have a quick catch-up with Clare to find out a bit more about her and why she wanted to join RAPs.

So Clare tell us a bit about your career, how long have you been involved in swimming teaching?

I originally started to swim seriously at the age of 11 on the recommendation of my GP. I had various physical problems, including asthma and problems with my legs and feet, which made other sports unsuitable for me. I then gave up swimming aged 16 and only swam occasionally.

What would you say inspired you to become a swimming teacher? 

At the age of 35 my husband had a serious back injury and the physiotherapy required involved me taking him to the pool daily. I took up assisting in a local club and gaining my teaching qualifications as it fitted in with my family. I have been running my own swim school for eleven years now.

Why did you want to join RAPs?

I heard about RAPs via email and wanted to join as I believe we need a more coordinated approach to aquatic teaching and coaching.

As a swimming teacher, what benefits do you think RAPs will bring to the industry?

I hope that RAPS will enable a more synchronised and coordinated approach to the teaching of all aquatic disciplines, and enable best practice and new ideas to be filtered through to the front line of teaching in a more ordered and efficient manner, so that the next generation of learners, participants and champions have the best opportunities as soon as possible.

How do you think RAPs will impact the aquatics industry? 

I think it will make the industry and qualifications easier to understand and make it easier to have an overall standard of qualifications.

What would you say about RAPs to someone who hasn’t heard of it?

I would say, read about it and think about where you are going in the future.

Why do think it’s important for people like yourself to be on the Register?

I think joining the Register is really important as it is a way of keeping up to date and getting information.

What would advice would you give to anyone who is contemplating being on the Register?

My advice would be ‘go for it’; you have nothing to lose and an awful lot to gain.

And finally who would you say is your sporting hero?

My sporting hero, is a client of mine, Graham who used to be a professional athlete, had a stroke which left him with paralysis down one side and has managed to relearn how to swim and walk and is a constant source of inspiration with his determination and perseverance and can do attitude.

Q&A with Olympic medallist and RAPs ambassador Steve Parry


We are delighted to have Olympic bronze medallist Steve Parry part of the RAPs family as our official ambassador, so we thought we’d have a little chat with to find out a bit more about him and why he wanted to come on board. So Steve…  

1. How did you get in to swimming, was it through school, a local swimming club?  

It’s a crazy story really. We were taking a family holiday along the Thames on a barge when I was 7 years of age and my dad made me wear a life jacket all week. It got to the weekend and I forgot to put my lifejacket on. My brother was chasing me around the boat and the next thing I knew I was in the water holding onto the barge. Fortunately, my dad fished me out and we joined swimming lessons at a local club the following week.

2. At what moment did you realise you wanted to make a career from swimming professionally? Was there a particular inspiration for you?  

Definitely. In 1988 we had a masterclass session in Liverpool from the 100m Butterfly Olympic medallist Andrew Jamieson. His mum was my coach at the time and I remember thinking “that’s what I want to do”: stand on the rostrum for Great Britain and win a medal.  There were many times I doubted it would ever happen but you got to keep plugging away!

3. You retired at the age of 27, did you struggle with the transition to a career outside of elite sport? What advice would you give to up and coming athletes about developing their skills and looking ahead to the future?

Of course it was incredibly difficult adjusting. Athletes are focussed, driven and to a degree selfish in the pursuit of their goal. I went for a few job interviews in banking and real estate but soon decided I needed to be my own boss. I set up my business in 2006 and never really looked back. Entrepreneurs have lots in common with athletes and I love the challenge of growing the business. Whatever route you take you have to be passionate about whatever you’re doing or the grind will hurt you!

4. As we know you have now set up the swim school, Total swimming, with your former training partner Adrian Turner. What inspired you to do this project?  

Half the kids in the UK can’t swim and we felt we had the ability to do something about it. It’s a life skill and 400 kids drown every year and that’s our motivation. It’s also the best health and fitness past time you can do so we love it.

5. As our official ambassador, how do you think RAPs can affect the industry?

The success and longevity of the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) has really shown what can be achieved in order to professionalise an industry. I hope that RAPs will have a similar effect on the aquatic industry as REPs does on the fitness industry. I believe that ensuring there is quality and professionalism throughout this industry is a must, and it’s fantastic news that the Register of Aquatic Professionals is actively addressing this major issue.

6. Why did you want your swim school to join RAPs?

It’s important that all of our staff get as much professional development as possible and can benchmark themselves against the industry and identify areas of improvement.

7. How do you think we can engage more people in the sport?

It’s the biggest participation sport in the country with over 3 million regular swimmers a week. I think what we need to focus on is getting kids in the water as early as possible and this will help with their lifelong participation.

For further information on Steve and Total Swimming click here

You can follow Steve on Twitter @steparry2