Case Study; Jo Cooper signs up to RAPs

ImageJo Cooper, one of the first to sign up to the Register of Aquatic Professionals (RAPs), has extensive experience in the pool having started teaching in 1979 at Northolt Swimming Club. She is currently a Swimming Teachers Association (STA) trained swimming tutor and is also a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) & Swimming Teachers Association Trainer and Assessor. 

Her inspiration for becoming a swimming teacher actually came from her two children. She decided that as they lived near a canal it was very important for them to learn to swim. 

Since that time Jo has kept constantly up to date with changes in coaching and teaching techniques, first aid and lifeguarding. She has set up and tutored Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) and STA teachers and NPLQ courses and swimming CPD seminars.

Jo has an extensive list of qualifications including;

  • ASA Teachers (Swimming) NVQ2
  • National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ)
  • ASA & STA Teacher (Parent & Child)
  • ASA Assistant Teacher Certificate in:

               –   Diving

               –   Swimming for the Disabled

               –   Waterpolo          

  • BTEC in Leisure Management
  • ISRM Certificate in Leisure Management. 

Despite having a wide range of qualifications, Jo felt it was really important for her to be on the Register, as all RAPS members have to meet National Occupational Standards, which describe the knowledge, competence and skills of good practice.

Jo said: “I am really pleased at the creation of RAPS. As just one of the many great benefits of RAPs is that it extends right across the industry”.  

Jo went on to say, “I wanted to join RAPs because the Register is really exciting for the industry as it provides a proper framework of the qualifications needed and it will allow teachers to figure out where exactly they fit within the framework, whether they’re ASA qualified or STA.”

“My advice to anyone considering being on the Register is to simply do it! It’s free to join during the pilot so get yourself registered, what have you got to lose? You then decide after the first year if RAPs is the right option for you!”

Jo has also written articles on swimming teaching and safety in swimming pools for Swimming Times and is currently writing a book about her experiences as a teacher first, then as a tutor.

FINA/Midea Diving World Series to take place in Edinburgh this month


The British leg of the 2013 FINA/Midea Diving World Series will take place at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh between the 19th and 21st April. 

 What’s it all about?

The Federation International De Nation (FINA)/ Midea World Series is an annual event where the world’s diving elite go head-to-head six times in the space of three months. 

This is the 7th annual running of the event and takes place in over six legs. The first and second legs took place in Beijing and Dubai last month. This month will see the third and fourth legs taking place in Edinburgh on the 19-21st April and in Moscow from the 26th to the 28th April. The fifth leg takes place in May in Guadalajara (17-19th April) and the event comes to a climax in Mexico City on the 24 – 26th May.

The programme at the World Series follows a similar programme to that of the Olympic Games, and will feature the 3m Springboard, 10m Platform, 3m Synchro and 10m Synchro for both men and women.

Who’s taking part for Britain?

Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley will be leading the British and will be competing in the 10m Platform.

European champions Tonia Couch and Sarah Barrow will be competing in the 10m Synchro , Tonia will also be taking part in 10m platform, where she won the British title in February this year.

Chris Mears and Hannah Starling also in the team and will be competing in the individual 3m Springboard.  Hannah will also be pairing up with Alice Blagg and Chris Mears with Nick Robinson-Barker for the women’s and men’s 3m Synchro.

The other countries taking part are Australia, Canada, USA, Mexico, Russia, Cuba, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, China and Ukraine. To find out more information on each team click here

For further information on how to book tickets or how to get there then please click here

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British Swimming announces New Paralympics Performance Director


British Swimming has recently appointed Chris Furber to lead its Paralympic Swimming Programme.

So what exactly will Chris be doing?

Chris has the exciting and challenging task of exploring a number of different strategies aimed at delivering more gold medals in Rio.

Some of you may recognise Chris to be the current lead coach of British Cycling’s Paralympic Team, so it may seem a little odd that Chris will be making this transition into swimming however, Furber has a great track record, getting GB cyclists to first place in both the Beijing and London Paralympic Games. With his background in cycling who knows what interesting ideas Chris may bring into the pool?

RAPs wishes him the best of luck in his new role, which he will be starting on May 13th.

For those interested in seeing how the squad might develop under Chris’s leadership, the next event for the team is the British International Disability Swimming Championships in Sheffield, which will act as the trials event for the IPC World Championships, which take place in Canada from 11-17 August.

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“Is your team ready to SwimBritain”

ImageMark Foster and Ellie Simmonds promoting the British Gas SwimBritain Campaign

Paralympic Gold Medallist Ellie Simmonds was a recent guest on the One Show. She spoke about a new and exciting challenge: to get Britons out of their armchairs and into the swimming pool. A new survey commissioned by the British Gas SwimBritain campaign reveals that 23% of Brits spend “115 days a year sitting down at work”.  However, “nearly 79% of those surveyed said they would like to live a more active life”.

“I’m shocked that so many people spend so much time sitting down, though most of them do say they’d like to be more active.  So I’m trying to encourage people to join the British Gas SwimBritain campaign and set themselves the challenge of swimming regularly” (Ellie stated).

The aim is to create a healthier nation and get half a million more people swimming regularly by 2015. What is the challenge about? It is about you and your friends and family being involved with nationwide team relays. The events will happen throughout September, and their aim is to improve Britain’s health and fitness and create a “great value training programme to support you on your swimming journey”.  You will receive a package that includes: quality in pool coaching, online training material, a place at a national event and 4,000m team challenge.

The locations and celebrities involved will be announced in May. You can register on the SwimBritain website to receive latest announcements and be ready to be the first to get involved.

The Register of Aquatic Professionals hope you will tell your friends and family and get your team ready to SwimBritain.

To visit the SwimBritain website follow this link. 
To read more about British Gas Survey Article follow this link. 
To watch Ellie Simmonds on the One show episode follow this link. 
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Key Nutrition Tips for Swimmers


We all know a well balanced diet is vital for our health, but it’s also important for making the most out of your time in the pool (and for improving our figures!).

As a swimming instructor, I’m sure your competing swimmers have asked you what it is they should be eating to enhance their performance? Or perhaps you feel that you would like to give them some general nutritional advice, as there are a lot of tips out there, many of course are fantastic but some are just plain confusing. 

As a general rule no matter what ability, experts at the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) advise that if planning to go swimming or training later in the day its best to try to eat an exercise-friendly meal two and three hours before you go. This means keeping your carbohydrate and protein levels high on roughly a 60:40 ratio.  For more information from the ASA click here .

Competitive Swimming is a highly explosive sport which requires large amounts of energy; to fuel this intense activity your body requires a good balance of both energy and nutrients.  

Kathleen Woolf, who is a member of the American Dietetic Association, gives some great nutritional advice for swimmers, which she divides up into 3 key areas of focus.


During a competitive event your muscles use carbs as fuel; yet your body can only store a limited amount in your muscles. In order to keep your body well stocked with carbs (in the form of glycogen, is made and stored primarily in the cells of the liver and muscles, and functions as the secondary long-term energy storage), which can easily deplete after any competition, it is really important to ensure that pre-competition meals are rich in good quality complex carbohydrates. Perhaps recommend your swimmers to include a range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and breads and cereals into their daily diet. Some of the best complex carbohydrates include wholegrain pasta and brown rice, which should make up 60% of total calorie intake. Even though things like biscuits, sugar-sweetened beverages and cake provide your body with carbs, these are nutrient- poor so don’t be tempted (although every now and then isn’t too bad as we all love a bit of cake!).   



Your muscles will need a good amount of protein for the tissue to be able to repair. The daily recommended amount depends on your weight, which according to experts it is approximately 2 grams per pound of weight for a sports person. So be sure to recommend good sources of protein such as lean meats (grill whenever possible), fish, seafood, eggs, low fat dairy and beans. Super-foods such as Brazil nuts and quinoa are also a great source of protein. For optimal muscle repair you should try to include a form of protein throughout your day, if not in every meal.


Since competitive swimming is such a high energy sport having three meals a day plus snacks, will give your swimmers that vital fuel needed for training as well as competitions. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day, and is essential for those early morning swimming sessions. Don’t recommend your swimmers to train on an empty stomach, otherwise they’ll be running on empty and their performance will be impaired. Do try and encourage them to eat at least an hour before training if possible though to avoid potential bowel irritation which can sometimes occur if you eat too close to beginning exercise. If you’re swimmers are wondering about snacks, things like low-fat yogurt, fruits and peanut butter sandwiches are just some examples of great healthy fuel-foods.

Remember try to recommend your clients refuel within 30 minutes of finishing any competition or training as the body immediately needs nutrients to repair muscles and replace energy.



Good hydration has huge impacts on physical and mental skills during swim practice. Sports drinks are recommended during an intense practice while water is great during a recovery or an easier session. In regards to caffeinated drinks such as coke, it’s best to recommend that these should be avoided as caffeine is a diuretic and it is important to watch the sugar intake.

A recent study regarding Hydration and Health has been presented at the British Nutrition Foundation’s (BNF) conference.  The study itself calls for sports coaches and instructors to ensure adequate provision of fluids and access to weighing scales at training and competition venues, to help cut down the number of athletes competing while dehydrated.  The study¹, by Dr Karen Reid of University of Wales, Trinity St David, is the first large scale study in the UK to investigate hydration knowledge, attitudes and practices of sportspeople. The study showed that 46% of people rely on their instructors for hydration information but only 6.3% of those ‘often’ use simple and effective weighing measurements, before and after exercise, to estimate their fluid requirements.  

It is a well know fact within the sporting environment that dehydration  can increase  cardiovascular strain, thermal strain, glycogen utilisation (in turn depleting valuable stores in the body), muscle lactate production (contributing to muscle fatigue) and the perceived rate of exertion. The research that was presented at the conference showed that most people still train, as well as compete, dehydrated and that their knowledge about hydration and practices for monitoring hydration levels is limited.

To help stay in top condition, the BNF has put together the following simply hydration measurement tips. You may find these tips useful when talking to your swimmers about the importance of keeping hydrated.

Before Exercise    

•    Drink about 500ml of fluid 2 hours before exercising to allow time for any excess to be lost in urine
•    Then drink a further 125-250ml immediately before exercise.

After Exercise    

•    It is recommended that swimmers should consume 150% of the amount of fluid lost during exercise to allow for the fluid that is naturally lost from the body via urine.  For example, if you have lost 1L of fluid, you need to drink 1.5L.
•    The easiest way to calculate fluid loss is to weigh yourself before and after training. 1kg of weight loss resulting from exercise is roughly equivalent to 1L of fluid loss.
•    Weight loss in kilos then needs to be multiplied by 1.5 to calculate the amount of fluid to consume. This does not need to be consumed all at once, immediately after exercise.  Tell your swimmers to aim for 500ml immediately after training, and then consume the remainder at intervals afterwards.

To see the full article and for further advice on hydration please click here. For further information on the topic of nutrition why not look at the ASA website. Or see what other tips Kathleen Woolf gives by clicking here.

Kathleen Woolf, PhD, RD is a registered dietitian and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, and the American College of Sports Medicine. 

¹‘Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices of Athletes and Sportspeople with Respect to Their Hydration’

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