Voicing her opinion: STA’s Lisa Smith shares her expert advice

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One of our official partners, the STA, has kindly shared some great advice for us to pass on to our members.

Having trained as a singer, Lisa Smith, STA’s Technical Support Officer certainly knows a thing or two about the voice, and how important it is for swimming teachers to protect their vocal chords.

Lisa Smith, STA Technical Support Officer said:

“It is very common for teachers, lecturers or anyone who is required to speak excessively as part of their job to have, at some stage in their working life a problem with their voice, and especially for swimming teachers who are projecting their voice in a noisy environment. Symptoms such as a lack of voice strength and croakiness are typical of vocal abuse, and permanent damage can be caused to the voice unless good habits are adopted.” 

To ensure you keep your vocal cords healthy Lisa offers some great tips:

  • Keep the vocal chords hydrated by taking regular sips of water whilst on poolside
  • Project your voice, don’t shout, a thumbs up or clapping can motivate learners just as effectively
  • Use your voice correctly when speaking, this is aided by good posture, and good breath support
  • When speaking to learners, bring them in close enough so that a quiet voice can be used

Warming up your voice with vocal exercises can be very effective, meaning that you can start your day with the strongest vocal production possible.

One great way to do this is through gentle humming. Many health professionals and vocal coach experts advise easy humming to glide up and down on three notes, moving up a note each time. This way you can gently stretch your vocal chords without causing damage. Whilst humming you should be able to notice the vibrations at the front of your face, and remember it is important to keep your throat relaxed as possible. When humming try using a syllable such as “mum” or “num”.

Other voice training practices include relaxation techniques and breathing exercises, as a teacher your voice should have a firm flow by a centred breath and a pitch range that is appropriate to your learners and the individual.

Most importantly, Lisa would advise anyone who suffers from a change in their voice or hoarseness for more than two weeks to visit their GP.

For more advice on effective voice techniques please follow this link.

Image Credit: toronto-services.com 

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RAPs at LIW

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We’re really excited about attending Leisure Industry Week (LIW) for the first time in September.

The event, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham, is a fantastic chance for us to share the progress of the Register of Aquatic Professionals (RAPs), and let you all know about the future plans for the Register.

As well as manning a stand, we will also be running a unique, educational session at the three-day exhibition.

When: 11:30 – 12:15, Thursday 26th September

Where: Keynote Theatre, Birmingham NEC

Single Qualification Framework (SQF) and Traineeships in the Leisure Industry

Led by SkillsActive’s Head of Standards and Qualifications, Stuart Turner, this session offers a unique opportunity for those in the industry to discuss and address some key issues concerning RAPs, including the SQF structure, along with traineeships and career pathways in the industry.

Places for the session are limited, and you must inform RAPs of your attendance in advance. Just email RSVP@skillsactive.com to confirm you would like to attend. Just make sure you mention the date and event in your email.

LIW is the UK’s leading exhibition for the leisure industry. This annual trade show connects you the with the latest products, services, brands, and innovations the industry has to offer and with the attendance of leading companies and industry experts you will be able to see what’s new on the market, and be inspired to develop fresh ideas and experiences for your members and customers.

What’s even better is that if you register in advance it is free for you to attend! However, non-registered visitors will have to pay a £30 entry fee on the door. So why not register your attendance today by visiting the LIW website. We hope to see you all there!

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2013 Barcelona FINA World Swimming Championship

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On the back of a somewhat disappointing FINA World Swimming Championships for Britain, RAPs would like to congratulate Fran Halsall for her bronze medal in Barcelona last month. Fran set her third fastest 50m freestyle time of her career. She also finished fourth in the 50m butterfly.

Unfortunately Fran was the only swimmer in the British team to win a medal, with three of our swimmers coming in fourth, just one place out of the medals.

This was the first international meet under the new leadership team of Chris Spice, the National Performance Director and Bill Furniss, Head Coach. They have announced that they must make changes to ensure British Swimming gets back on form and starts to compete for more medals.

Speaking to British Swimming, Furniss explained:

“For the first four weeks of my job, Chris and I were looking at the restructure. We have looked at everything we do, all over Britain.

“There has been a massive amount of work to get a new performance management team in.

“Once that’s over, my job will be with the coaches. I’ll be on deck with the coaches, I’ll be in their ear and I want to improve our conversion rate. I definitely see that as my primary role.”

Spice called the Championships an “assessment meet” which has shown the team their current standing and where they need to be to begin to have an impact internationally.

The leadership team are keen to bring back ‘event’ and ‘relay’ camps and will aim to improve on the psychological aspect of racing.

Although this year’s late trials allowed juniors to make the team, it was not so beneficial aerobically because of the short gap between the trials and the main event. Because of the timing of the Commonwealth Games next year, trials will be held in April. The earlier trials should result in a stronger build-up for the team, and hopefully bring more medals as a consequence.

Image Credit: BBC News

Safety on holiday

ImageGuest blog from RAPs Member Jo Cooper

Recently we have seen numerous news reports of people drowning. As well as being a swimming teacher, I am a Trainer Assessor for the STA and the RLSS. I am also a qualified lifeguard, and therefore know how to rescue. There are so many misapprehensions about safety in water. 

On two separate holidays I have undertaken two rescues.  Both times the child had fallen into the pool and was able to be rescued with a simple reach, but each time the parents were totally unaware of the child’s predicament. It is up to the swimming teachers to explain to the parents about safety in the sea and in unguarded holiday swimming pools, either abroad or in hotels in this country.  

At what age or standard is it considered that a child is safe in and around water? Nobody should be that specific. I used to sit on the side of the swimming pool, sun cream, glasses and hat on, feet in the water and just watch my kids at play. I got a lovely brown back and spent my relaxing time, knowing that my children were safe. I have the training to affect a rescue, I know the dangers of water and have the experience of knowing when a child is getting into difficulty in the pool. I know what to look for. Most parents haven’t got this training. 

I understand the need to take a buoyant aid when affecting a rescue, so that there is a distance between the rescuer and the casualty who will be in a severe state of panic. A drowning casualty with high levels of adrenalin flowing throughout their body will have an immense amount of strength certainly enough to get the untrained rescuer into trouble themselves.  

It could be argued that a good swimmer is safe. However, to understand what a good swimmer is we need to quantify the word “good”. Throughout my career I have met parents who think their children are good swimmers. This has ranged from the inadequate National Curriculum’s 25m swim which takes place in a calm pool in a school class, to being a top club swimmer. These 25m swimmers are the most at risk. They have their badge which was gained by “swimming” in deep water, and they think they are better than they really are. The top club swimmer may be able to get himself or herself out of difficulty, but without lifesaving skills, would put himself or herself in trouble if they tried to rescue a friend. 

Holiday pools abroad on the whole do not have adequate lifeguard cover. Parents must be advised to forget their holiday book and relaxing in a horizontal position by the pool; an accident or near drowning is going to ruin their holiday. They must not take the risk. My advice would be to go to the pool and find the safest place for the children to play and swim, and the place where the parent could stand up in the water and therefore walk and do a “wading” rescue. If a parent has no training in rescue techniques, it is very dangerous for them to affect a rescue in deep water when neither of them can stand. It is essential to tell the children in what area they can play, and then the parent or suitable adult must decide how they are going to watch them. 

In the sea there are currents, and at my local beach at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, there are sand banks on which people get marooned. Fortunately after a very serious accident which claimed three lives in the 1970s, the RNLI have an inshore rescue boat stationed there. The beaches, especially in this hot weather, are beautiful and the water is tempting. Parents must be taught how to act responsibly. Going to lifeguarded beaches is a good idea, but they must not rely on the lifeguards to babysit their children. When the beach is busy they have many people in a vast area to watch and then quite a distance to run to get to an incident.

Planning is the key. A plan should be made as to when and for how you’re in the water for.  We all like to have fun, but we must all be sensible and vigilant.