RAPs Member Paula Chandler takes part in the Great North Swim

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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 marketing@skillsactive.com

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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.

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 marketing@skillsactive.com

RAPs supports the Sri Lanka Women’s Swimming Project

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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 http://www.icanswimcanyou.com/

Swimming teacher wins iPad with RAPs

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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

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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

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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