Swimming with Puddle Ducks has been such a huge part of our weekly routine that when we don’t have swimming due to school holidays I feel lost, and it takes me a few weeks just to remember to not get his swimming bag ready on a Thursday morning!
Part of the whole experience has been down to the amazing relationship we have with T’s instructor Vikki. Vikki has known T since he was a fudgy baby when holding his head up was his biggest achievement – nowadays it’s trying to get him to jump in from the poolside!
Vikki has been with us through the good times and the bad – from teaching me how to be confident with my baby in the water, to point blank refusals to do anything (him, not me!), which also sometimes included a lot of screaming (again, him not me!). It’s not always been pleasant, but I’ve always been made to feel at ease. This also goes the same for all the other instructors we have had the pleasure of being taught by.
You feel welcome
Since starting our Puddle Ducks baby and pre-school swimming lessons we’ve been taught by a variety of other instructors from time to time too, whether it’s due to holiday cover or when we have had to arrange catch up lessons or photoshoots!
Either way, our experience has always been an enjoyable one, and to show you why we love our instructors so much I’ve had the privilege of interviewing three of the Brighton instructors who have kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions:
Hi! Please introduce yourself:
Michelle, Ovingdean Hall, Brighton (M)
Emma, Clayton Court Barn and the Hilton, Brighton (E)
Vikki, Brighton Hilton and Ovingdean Hall. (V)
1) How long have you been a Puddle Ducks teacher?
(M) I started a year ago and have been teaching my own classes since January 2017.
(E) I have been a Puddle Ducks teacher for almost two years.
(V) 3 years 5 months
2) What made you become a swimming teacher with Puddle Ducks?
(M) I took my youngest son to swimming lessons and we both loved it. I have always considered swimming to be an essential life skill and as soon as I experienced it with my own children I knew I wanted to teach others.
(E) I worked with another baby swim company at the Hilton in Brighton and various other pools and sadly the company folded, the Manager at the Hilton was eager to help me so I could keep my children and mums and remain at the Hilton doing a job I LOVED! He introduced me to Clive and the rest is history!
(V) I have always loved swimming from a very early age. I took both my children to swimming classes from babies and I absolutely loved every minute of it. It was without a doubt my most favourite time of the week. I kept talking about becoming a teacher for a while and finally decided to do it. I have never looked back.
It’s the best job in the world!
3) What song from the Puddle Ducks catalogue is your favourite?
(M) Jelly on the Plate – it works for all ages and the kids love it!
(E) My favourite song is “Little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose”.
(V) Jelly on the plate. Kickers, Little Dippers and Dippers absolutely love it!
4) What do you enjoy most about teaching?
(M) Seeing how they develop and how their confidence grows in the water.
It’s amazing thing to be part of.
(E) I am a passionate swimmer and I adore babies and toddlers. This job combines both my loves. The challenge of inspiring both babies, toddlers and parents to love the water and overcome any fear is so rewarding, especially with nervous parents and some who cannot swim. It really gives me such a buzz and I have been doing it for thirteen years.
(V) Watching a Dipper achieving their 5 metres, watching a child who has come into the water and screaming and not letting go of their parent and seeing them do their first surface dive. Seeing the children achieve such wonderful milestones in their swimming and knowing I had a part to play in it.
5) What do you enjoy least about teaching?
(M) The paperwork!
(E) The admin is the thing I find most difficult, I am not a computer whizz and all the stuff we have to do I find challenging, I am getting better but slowly.
(V) Paperwork! In all honesty I love every aspect of teaching.
6) What are the biggest challenges you face with teaching children to swim?
(M) All children and adults are different; so trying to ensure that what you are teaching is understood by everyone (as everyone learns differently) is something that I am always conscious of.
(E) The biggest challenge is trying to get a nervous baby/toddler/parent to trust. The most rewarding results are the babies that scream for weeks even months, convincing the parents to keep going and then to win the child over so that their swimming lesson is the highlight of their week.
(V) One of the biggest challenges for me are children that are nervous, but with enough time and support from the parent and myself we can show the child there is nothing to be scared of. Convincing parents to stick with it when their child is scared and making the parent believe that it won’t last forever, that their child will one day feel comfortable in the water. I want all children to have the love for swimming that both my children do. Nervous parents also can be a challenge, although I have to say
I admire any parent who can overcome their own fear to ensure their own child’s safety and enjoyment around water.
7) What’s been the most rewarding aspect of teaching children to swim?
(M) For me, it’s been seeing some of the most nervous children reach a stage where they are just happy and confident in the water.
(E) To inspire the lifelong love of swimming and water, enabling water confidence which opens so many other water sports that can give them endless fitness and fun.
(V) Being part of something in those children’s lives that will not only give them so much enjoyment in and around water, but teaching life survival skills that could one day save their lives. Teaching swimming for me is without a doubt the most rewarding job I have ever had. I don’t ever want to stop teaching!
8) What’s the one piece of advice you would give parents if they were thinking of taking up swimming lessons?
(M) Enjoy it. It’s a great opportunity to do something where you focus totally on your child, and the more you can relax and enjoy it the more they will too.
(E) It is an essential safety skill which they will never forget and it can be hugely beneficial not only to save their life, but to gain confidence and to keep fit and healthy. It will help them sleep, help their digestion and it should be fun!
(V) It genuinely is without a doubt the best present I could ever have given my children. For me to know that they are safe around water and can do so many activities in the water is truly wonderful.
I believe every parent should take their child swimming. Understand that not all children straight away will get in and love the water from the very first moment, but stick with it. When you see your child swim their first independent swim or jump in safely and swim to you and you see their smile, there’s nothing quite like that feeling!
As you can see, Puddle Ducks are truly passionate about what they do and their aim is for everyone to always have fun – but be safe at the same time, with water safety being their priority. In the years we’ve been swimming, I know that T is confident in the water and would know what to do in the event of an accident. Not only that, but it’s good exercise for him (and me – have you ever tried to swim with a toddler on your back?)
A huge thank you to Michelle, Emma, and Vikki for their time – I didn’t mean to add to your paperwork!
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We have been compensated by Puddleducks for sharing our most recent experiences whilst swimming with Puddle Ducks.