Summer Water Safety

Life savings 2

At Aquatots we pride ourselves in not only teaching babies and children how to swim but also giving them the skills to save their own lives (and during our higher levels the skills to save others!).  Having these skills does reduce the risk of serious water related incidents BUT accidents happen especially to young children and we ask that you NEVER become complacent about the dangers, teach your children to respect water and always supervise them when they are around water.

We have put together some information and tips to help keep you and your children safe especially during the warmer summer months.


Bath Safety

  • As babies cannot control their movements they will be unable to save themselves if they slip under the water – always stay with them.
  • Bath seats are not safety devices, babies can still wriggle free of them.
  • Older siblings are not mature enough to look after a baby or toddler in the bath – please do not burden them with this responsibility.
  • Empty the bath of water when your child gets out.

Beach Safety

  • Wind blowing off the land can give the sea a calm appearance but it can easily sweep airbeds and inflatables off dangerously quickly.
  • Teach your children to stay within the red and yellow coloured flags as these parts of the beach are patrolled by lifeguards.
  • When visiting different countries, check on their beach rules.
  • Teach your children that when an orange windsock is up it means the sea is more dangerous than usual.
  • Be extra cautious about using deserted beaches if you are swimming as you may need assistance!
  • Invest in a wetsuit for your child – lots of wetsuits also have UV protection. Ensure that the wetsuit fits snugly as they work by warming up the layer of water that is trapped between the wetsuit and the skin. If the wetsuit is too big it will not keep your child warm.   AQUATOTS ONLINE SHOP
  • Find out about tide times and ensure that you and your children do not play or walk somewhere that can be cut off by the tide coming in.
  • Teach your children under 10 years old the ‘Never more than a pace away’ rule.
  • Teach your child the difference between wave types:
    • Spilling waves are the safest to play and swim in, you can recognise these as the ones where the top of the wave falls down in front of itself.
    • Surging waves don’t break and can easily knock over an adult and drag them out to sea.
    • Dumping waves break with great force in shallow water, these waves are very powerful and dangerous and normally occur at low tide.

Aquatot on beach

Water Safety in the garden

 Paddling pools

  • Do not leave your child unattended, it can take less than 20 seconds for a toddler to drown in 5cm of water!
  • Always empty the water out of a paddling pool immediately after use.
  • Place pools face down or hang them up – be aware that rain water can collect on the top of pool covers.

Swimming pools/hot tubs

  • Install a fence which is at least 4 foot high, the slats of the fence should be less than 4 inches apart and the gate should be self-closing and latching and in good working order.
  • Ensure the surrounding area is clear of any items or equipment that is close enough to the pool fence that children could climb over.
  • Always pack away pool toys as they are very tempting to young child who may reach out to grab them.
  • Check if your neighbours have any exposed water on their property and be especially vigilant for any opportunities (broken fence, hole in a hedge) where a child could gain access to their land.
  • When visiting other people’s houses, ask whether there is any exposed water on their land – particularly ponds.
  • Be aware that young children have been known to wriggle under pool covers!
  • Do not rely on pool alarms as they have not proven to be effective!

Other bodies of water i.e. lakes and rivers

  • Always ensure your children (and yourself) are wearing buoyancy aids AT ALL TIMES when partaking in any water sports such as sailing and canoeing.
  • Canals, lakes and rivers are dangerous even to strong swimmers so teach your children from a very young age to never take unnecessary risks in water.
  • Water feels warmer at the edges but can dramatically plummet the further out you go, it can suddenly become cold enough to put a child’s body into shock!
  • Children under 10 still need constant supervision even if they are confident swimmers as they are liable to forget instructions when they get excited.
  • Hidden debris, pockets of freezing water, weeds, abrupt shelving, unstable beds and unknown water depths all need to be considered when swimming/paddling in often murky, cloudy water.
  • NEVER swim in reservoirs, as along with the dangers mentioned above they also may have unseen underwater currents from pipework.
  • Check that there is a way out of the water as some lake/river banks can be too steep or unstable to climb back out.
  • Be cautious of dangers and know the water depth before diving or tombstoning into water – as a rule of thumb, a jump of ten metres requires a depth of at least five metres

Aquatots on holiday

What to Do in an Emergency

  • Whenever a child is missing, always check the water first. Survival depends on a quick rescue and restarting breathing as soon as possible.
  • If you find a child in the water, immediately get the child out while calling loudly for help. If someone else is available, have them call 999.
  • Check to make sure the child’s air passages are clear.
  • If the child is not breathing, start CPR if you are trained to do so. When the emergency number is called, follow the instructions the emergency operators provide.
  • If you think the child may have suffered a neck injury, such as from diving, keep the child on his or her back and brace the neck and shoulders with your hands and forearms to help keep the neck from moving until emergency help arrives. This type of immobilization minimizes further injury to the spine and is best done by someone who is trained in the technique.
  • Keep the child still and speak in calm tones to keep the child comforted.
  • Continue to watch for adequate breathing.

Stay safe and thanks for reading

Why Aquatots gives ‘Something for Nothing!’

Boy and Girl logo

‘Freebies’….a word that can make people very suspicious – can you really get Something for Nothing?  At Aquatots we have a core belief – ‘If YOU are happy then we are happy’!  This is why FOUR times a year we offer completely FREE, no strings attached Baby Swimming Taster Sessions.  They are not a gimmick or a stunt to trap you, there is not a sales person hiding in the changing rooms to encourage you to sign up to a full course or a hidden cost of the Taster Session if you decide not to start your baby swimming with Aquatots.  They are simply our way of giving you and your baby the opportunity to experience what we can do and more importantly allowing you to decide if you like it.


We spoke to new Aquatots Mum Natalie after her recent taster session with her 4 month old son Rhys to see how she had found the whole process from booking on to the actual session, which can seem to be rather daunting with a small baby in tow.

Natalie was keen to start Rhys swimming but wanted to ensure she found the best group to suit them, she wanted to make sure both she and her baby were comfortable and enjoyed being in the pool so she attended 2 other swim school’s Taster Sessions as well as ours.  Once Natalie had found an Aquatots Taster Session that had a date, time and venue to suit her she called up our office and booked the session over the telephone, the whole process was easy and quick and she felt that the follow up emails gave her lots of information so that she was prepared when arriving to her session.

This was Natalie’s first time visiting her chosen pool; Cheltenham Park Hotel but she felt confident about turning up and being ready although she did not know any of the other parents.  The session was run by one of our eleven Aquatots instructors; Lisa Bennett who Natalie has described as “amazing, friendly, inviting and a good Teacher”.

Lisa and SS

Natalie said the pool was very accessible and she felt it was really useful to actually be able to get into the pool with Rhys and not to just have a guided tour.

Natalie was joined by other parents taking their babies into a swimming pool for the first time so understandably some were nervous but the 25 minute Taster Session went well, the environment was friendly and everyone enjoyed themselves especially Rhys who “loved” the water.  Throughout the session Teacher Lisa was able to show the parents how to hold their babies and to encourage them in the water.  She also showed them how to help their babies become more ‘water-ready’, to enable them to learn the skills and exercises we teach thus giving them a solid stepping stone up to a full length course should they decide to continue swimming with us.

After the Taster Session Natalie went home and booked onto one of our starter Duckling Courses the very same day!

When asked, she described the session as the best Taster she had been too, the friendly accessible pool and good facilities along with Aquatots smaller class sizes were some of the deciding factors for her.  Natalie believes that seeing the pool, meeting the teacher and having the opportunity to learn about the benefits of swimming with Aquatots, not just in the pool but the support we give to parents when babies are sick or a holiday is coming up, helped her make her decision.  Natalie is convinced that the Taster Session was definitely worth the visit and she can’t wait to watch Rhys learn and develop his swimming skills with Aquatots.


We do pride ourselves on being ‘Simply The Best Baby Swimming Company’, we are confident that our Aquatots swim level programmes written by our own Managing Director Fiona gives your baby the very best chance of learning survival and swimming skills.  The best way for you to experience Baby Swimming Lessons is first-hand during a Taster Session – we understand that you wouldn’t buy a new car without test-driving it or buy a house without viewing it so why would you sign up your precious baby without having the opportunity to ensure it is safe, progressive and worthwhile!

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle



Aquatots Swimmers reaching their full swimming potential

Your baby starts their journey with Aquatots somewhere between 8 weeks and 18 months old and they begin at our Duckling level.  We want you and your child to really enjoy your weekly lesson.  We strive to make each session varied, interesting yet informative and most importantly productive!  During the first term with us we are going to be teaching you and your baby 28 exercises – this is why our courses are not a “drop in”.  We need the structure of the course especially in this important Duckling level, to teach your child the abilities they will need to continue on to learn the skills to save their own life and then later in swimming widths and then lengths of the pool.  By the end of the  Duckling course your baby will have done at least 5 submersions in one lesson. They will be using their instincts and Mammalian Dive Reflex under the water to build confidence levels and learning new skills above water that will help them with exercises in later levels as well as out of the water i.e ‘holding on’.  The Duckling level is such an important starter point and we do encourage the same person to take baby swimming throughout this course as it is as much about the parent/guardian learning as the child!


Once your child had mastered the basic skills we move you up to our Cygnet level, this is when the levels stretch out to 2 terms each….there is just so much to learn and master before progressing on!  During the next 12 terms and 6 levels (progression is dependent on individual skills) your child will learn skills that will not only help them in the swimming pool but also on ‘dry land’. We see Aquatot babies regularly grasping Visual Motor Skills and Story Recall earlier than their peers and before their expected milestones.  In fact by the time your child goes to school it is likely that that they will have made amazing progression in Oral Expression, Mathematical Reasoning, Brief Reading and Understanding Directions – they may even be 20 months ahead of their classmates!  You can read more about this is our ‘Swimming Really Does Enhance The Learning Of Young Children’ Blog post.

Once your child has reached our Swim School level they will already have to learn to swim 5 metres and will be aiming for 10 metres, using over arm crawl, back and breast strokes.  Children at this level are diving off the side and doing somersaults in the water but most importantly by the end of this level they will have completed life-saving skills – not just saving their own lives but that of others.  We are talking about 3,4 and 5 year olds dressed in their clothing rescuing their parents!

The National Curriculum states that by the end of Key Stage 2 (year 6) all children should be able to swim a minimum distance of 25 metres unaided.  On average our 4 and 5 year old children are leaving Aquatots and moving onto primary school with at least a 10 metre badge under their belt, we do have the capability to continue on with our swimmers up to a Swim School Elite level where some school starters are leaving us with their ASA 25 metre Kellogg’s award so already 7 years ahead!

SS certificates

Swimming with Aquatots is a useful and worthwhile interest with amazing health and life-skill benefits, if you are still not convinced see what our Aquatots and their parents have to say –

“We have just finished our last term with Aquatots, after almost 6 years. All the teachers we have had have been fantastic, and both my children are confident swimmers and enjoyed their lessons” Gail Hedley

“I like it when I lie on my back and sing sleeping bunnies” Finlee McCann (aged 2 year and 11 months)

“My daughter is now very water confident at just 10months old and it’s teaching her life skills. I recommend Aquatots to all of my friends” Sinead Somerville

“Amazed at how well my son does at 15 months and some of the things he’s learnt in the pool help him in ‘normal’ life, especially ‘hold on’ in the swings when he was tiny!! I can’t recommend the Aquatots lessons highly enough, it’s just fabulous seeing all the children progress so quickly and enjoy it so much” Susan Fulcher


Dealing with the ‘Wobble’ stage

Not every baby has it but if your child has gone through a swimming ‘Wobble’ stage then it will be etched in your memory, it is a period of time that required the three P’s – Patience, Perseverance and Practise!

When babies hit a certain age in their development we sometimes see a show of rebellion, this is usually when they are learning to crawl, cruise round the furniture, culminating with learning to walk.  They are gaining independence and although as parents we welcome them growing and learning it does usually mean they gain a new confidence in themselves which may display as defiance in some situations.

Have you experienced months of a happy, compliant baby trying different exercises, comfortable in the pool and nonplussed by being taken under the water and then suddenly you have a screaming child that completely refuses to put their head under and cries at the sight of the pool or their teacher?  You are not alone – this is the ‘Wobble’ stage!

At Aquatots we made the decision not to take new starters after they had reached 18 months old.  This is because it is very difficult to teach a child with full blown confidence levels our submersion techniques.  At this age they become wary of new experiences and going under the water is more of a mental challenge than to a baby, who still has the survival mammalian and laryngeal reflexes which develop in the womb, but diminish as baby gets older hence why we encourage swimming from such a young age.


Read some of our Aquatot Mum’s experiences below:


“My son Gabriel is 2 years and 10 months, has today achieved Otter standard and is moving up to Seal next term. He is such a confident swimmer and diver now.  I am extraordinarily proud of him and indeed myself for getting this far because he spent at least a year hating his swimming lessons, crying beforehand, and crying, punching, pinching and kicking me during the lessons! We started swimming when Gabriel was 5 months old, which was a very difficult time for me personally as my marriage had recently ended and Gabriel’s father stepped out of his life. Our instructor Nicky was so patient and supportive of me, despite the fact that I didn’t seem to be able to hold my baby the right way in any of the exercises, and needed a lot of extra help!  Gabriel, however, loved those early lessons though and beamed all the way through. When Gabriel was about 18 months, when we were at around Seahorse level and I was just about getting the hang of my role, Gabriel flatly refused to take a breath when asked. He swallowed masses of water each time he went under the water, had terrible indigestion and was usually appallingly sick. We (I) practised taking a breath like mad at home in the bath, but Gabriel is extraordinarily stubborn and preferred to swallow water than cooperate. On a pool based holiday in Cyprus Gabriel screamed his head off if I even ventured near the children’s pool with him.  Eventually Gabriel had to go back down a class from Seahorse to Dolphin for half a term, which was really depressing.

Things very gradually got better once Gabriel hit 2 and a half this summer.  We went swimming outside the classes more, and I got more confident about letting him fiddle about in the water by himself, rather than trying to get him to practise the exercises we learned in class.  Also, Gabriel was suddenly a lot taller and stronger, he found himself able to stand in shallow pools for himself and had more control. Instead of playing with watering cans and teapots in the water, Gabriel wanted to plunge underwater again and again – but choosing for himself when, and so he was in control of holding his breath. He was still complaining about going to swimming lessons and fighting Mummy a lot in the lessons – and had to be threatened with swimming with Nicky not Mummy to make him vaguely cooperate. We then took another big step forward in September when we had two lessons a week for three weeks (catching up for a broken arm). Suddenly Gabriel cracked all sorts of things he had always struggled with – quite apart from the breath holding – diving under water for dive sticks, lying relaxed on his back in the water, sitting dives (rather than sitting slides).

I am not quite sure why I stuck with swimming when it was so miserable for both of us for so long. It wasn’t particularly that I wanted Gabriel to learn life-saving skills (although I do), but it was more that I didn’t want to give up – Gabriel gets his stubbornness from me! As well as learning the basics of swimming, Gabriel has learned respect for water and steers clear of the edges of ponds and swimming pools – which I hope will be as useful in lifesaving, as being able to swim up to the surface and back to the edge.”



“Rhys starting swimming with Aquatots from about 6 months old, it started off fantastically and he loved the water.  When Rhys got to around 1 he started to get really upset, especially when he knew he was going under the water, we stuck with it but he started to cry for practically the whole lesson – it was horrible and what was annoying was I knew he could do it if he just let go of me!  I started to take Rhys swimming in the week and just let him play trying to make it fun, this helped for a while.  The crying started again though and went on for ages – way over a year. I made the decision to quit Aquatots and went swimming as usual and for some reason he didn’t cry so I took him back to lessons and Rhys was suddenly enjoying it.  By now Rhys was over 3 years old and all he wanted was badges -he was so determined he just did everything he was told and tried so hard”

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“Freya hit her wobble stage at the beginning of her second term, she was around 9 months old and was just becoming mobile. It started very suddenly as soon as we started the first exercise of the first lesson, I was shocked as during her Duckling lessons she loved doing everything.  Freya became very tense and rigid and would literally scream the building down. We knew she wasn’t cold as we swim at a hydro pool and it became clear as time went on that she was just being very stubborn! When we went swimming outside of lessons she would be fine until we started to practise any of the things we did during lessons  – then the screaming would start.

Our ‘Wobble’ lasted an epic 18 months (at times I nearly joined in with the crying as I was so frustrated). Our teacher was amazing during the whole process, she reassured me and advised me to not get out of the water at all during lessons even though we were not taking part in many activities, so we spent endless hours playing with squeezy toys on the pool steps and watching the other children having a great time. I would try to do as many exercises during the lesson as possible despite Freya’s continued vocal protests.

After a while it became very clear that she could do everything but just didn’t want to, or would not do it for me. At this stage our teacher would take Freya and do a couple of activities a week, Freya was not exactly willing to do this but she knew she would not get away without doing it. During one particularly bad lesson our teacher said that Freya was clearly taking everything in, and watching all the other children, she said one day she would probably just forget to scream and swim! I must admit that I never thought that this would happen but as we had invested so much of our time and energy in the lessons I decided that we would continue.

Freya was probably nearly three when everything clicked, I remember the lesson started as normal – screaming and trying to climb out of the pool, my heart sank and I remembered thinking I just can’t do this anymore. Then half way through the lesson the screaming stopped and Freya watched the other children swimming across the width of the pool with assistance. To my astonishment she pushed off from the side and swam, grinning when she got to the other side and saying “again Mummy”. We literally have not looked back since, we went from not wanting to go swimming to Freya being distraught to the point of tears when swimming was not on that week.

Since getting as far as we could with Aquatots we have since moved to swimming lessons at a local pool.  Her teacher commented last week on how competent and confident Freya is in the water much to her and my delight – she has ambitions to be an Olympic swimmer so watch this space!”


These ‘Wobble’ stages are extreme but the important message is DO NOT GIVE UP!  Here at Aquatots we want swimming to be a pleasurable experience that you look forward to and for the majority of the time it will be BUT you can hit barriers and there may be times when you have to physically force yourself to lessons but rest assured that we have NEVER had a child that hasn’t seen it through to the ‘other side’ as long as you follow those 3 P’s – Patience, Perseverance and Practise.

As hard as it may seem at the time, try to be confident and relax as much as possible during the lessons.  We sometimes see parents that are experiencing the ‘Wobble’ stage get very emotional and frustrated and often feel teary…..your baby senses the change and then feels very insecure. This often drags out the ‘Wobble’ stage, the tenser you get – the more stubborn they can get!

We also advocate practising outside of lessons, this can be in the bath or during extra lessons at your local pool (try and choose times that are not too noisy and busy).  Invest in some toys that we use in our lessons. Our Aquatots get very excited when they recognise the fish, balls and zoggy dive sticks and it helps them interact during the lessons especially when they have a favourite toy to play with.  These can be purchased in our online store at .   You can also sing the songs from the lessons and practise the actions during the week, this all helps to reinforce what you have learned and encourages you both to relax in and out of the water.  You can now purchase a usb stick with all the Aquatots nursery rhymes on sung and acted out by Aquatot parents.  Please ask the office for further details.

We hope this helps reassure you, as an Aquatots parent we are always happy to support you and get you through this difficult period.

Thank you for reading, if your child has experienced the ‘Wobble’ stage and you can add any more advice please leave a comment or perhaps you are going through a difficult period now and have a question that you would like answered.




Swimming with Special Needs

Lynn is an Aquatots Mum, she has been bringing her 10 month old daughter Libby to lessons for five months and is progressing up the levels as expected but Lynn is no ordinary Mum, she is registered disabled.  Lynn has a mixture of orthopaedic conditions, the main conditions are bilateral acetabular and femoral dysplasia which means her hip sockets and femurs didn’t develop properly as she was growing. She also have scoliosis which is a curvature of the spine and some disk degeneration.

Lynn has a lot to cope with, she has mobility issues which confines her to a wheelchair most of the time AND a 10 month old baby yet every week she turns up with Libby for their Aquatots swimming session.  She wheels herself and Libby onto the poolside and with the support of our teacher Amy she is able to pass Libby into the pool and then make her own way in after.  Lynn is a keen swimmer and being in the slightly deeper pools that we offer means not only can the water support a lot of her weight and allow her to walk unassisted which gives her a sense of freedom it also is a great physical activity for her which does not harm her joints.

Lynn and Libby

Lynn decided to join Aquatots after a recommendation from a friend, she has always liked swimming and with daughter Libby also enjoying water she felt it was the perfect choice for an activity they could do together.  Aquatots let Lynn and Libby come along to watch a session to see if she thought she could manage it. Lynn says “Amy was really friendly and seemed prepared to help me make it work. There were also lots of different pools to choose from so I could find a pool that was accessible for me and local”.  Lynn is able to manage most tasks in the pool and if there is something she’s struggling with then she has always found a slightly different technique so she can manage it and teacher Amy is on-hand to suggest different ways to undertake activites and is always prepared to help.

Lynn decided to share her experience with Aquatots as an example of how accessible our lessons are and how hard we strive to support each and every one of our swimmers so that the main objective of getting baby swimming at an early age can be achieved.

Have you met our Superbaby William yet, this little chap made the news earlier this year.  William, who has Downs Syndrome, needed open heart surgery last year to repair a hole in his heart.  His parents Susan and Andrew wanted him to be strong enough to cope with the surgery so joined Aquatots when William was just seven weeks old, they undertook an 8 week Duckling course in our Paternoster Hydro pool, after just a few weeks his parents were seeing a difference in his once weak muscles which were getting stronger.  “The swimming has helped improve his muscle tone and gain strength in preparation for his surgery”  says Mum Susan.

William in hospital

After four months recovery, William was back in our Aquatots sessions and has progressed onto our Cygnet level.

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Aquatot to Aqua’champ

Aquatots Swimming Ltd is the new sponsor of record breaking swimmer Tazmin Pugh, ranked 1st in the Europe in the 200m fly (short course).
When Dad Ian began Aquatot baby swimming classes with daughter Tazmin aged at 6 months he never imagined the lengths she would swim to get to the promising position she is in now.  Aquatots Managing Director and teacher Fiona Munt-Whittle recognised the raw talent of Tazmin even from such a young age and supportive Ian took Fiona’s advice and regularly visitied the pool with Tazmin outside of lessons to encourage her enthusiam for swimming.
At 15 Tazmin is travelling the world competing for England, her recent trip to the Commonweath Youth Games in Somoa saw her win 6 medals out of 8 events and help Team England come second with an overall 25 medals (Tazmin bringing home the most individual medals!).
The lastest exciting news is that Tazmin has been offered a place by British Swimming on the World Class programme ‘Podium Potential’, this small group compises of athletes whose performances indicate they have realistic capabilities for making the Olympic Team in 2016 and medal potential at those Games or in 2020, she is also due to represent Team GB in Canada this December!
Pershore raised Tazmin joined her first swim team at 5 and is now on a sponsorship at Ellesmere College regularly competing for her school team the ‘Titans’  – In fact she represented the West Midlands at the English Schools Swimming Inter-Divisional Championships (short-course) in Leeds on 3rd / 4th October where she gained her ‘1st in Europe’ title.
It does not stop there though, Tazmin’s older sister Brittany now takes her 2 year old son Ted swimming at our Tewkesbury Park Hotel venue.  With Auntie Tazmin as a role model and swimming talent running in the family – who knows where Ted will be in a few years time – WATCH THIS SPACE!
Aquatots sponsorship will support Tazmins training and competing.  With four training camps a year, multiple events to attend and lots of equipment to fund – Tazmins talent does require some additional funding!  We are working closely with Tazmin to raise awareness of her amazing talent and to support her need of more sponsorship and donations, with Tazmin being tipped to be at the 2021 Olympics we need to ensure she receives the grassroots support now to aid her in her journey to the top!
Tazmin says “I am delighted that Aquatots is sponsoring me as they were the ones to truly get me into my love of water. I really appreciate what they are doing to help and I hope it gets more parents involved with it as I think it is important for life skills as well as a hobby and I’m sure my sister who attends these sessions would thoroughly agree”
You can see Tazmins outstanding talent reflected in the medal chart below – this ONLY shows medals won in the since August 2014
Where Is Tazmin Now
22nd October 2015 – Flying off to Lanzarote for a swim camp

Showering before swimming – the reasons why!

shower sign

Showering before jumping into water sounds a bit of a contradiction doesn’t it yet here at Aquatots we request you do it before every lesson.

In the UK 70% of swimmers admit to not showering before entering the pool – that sign in the changing area is not just a suggestion it is an essential part of ensuring you, your child and the pool is protected!

There are lots of reasons why we actively encourage you to take a shower before swimming, some are common sense but some reasons you may not expect – carry on reading and see why it’s so important:


Common Courtesy:

Its only polite to clean yourself before jumping into someone else’s pool, it’s the most considerate thing you can do!

Looking after the pool:

The more contaminated the pool becomes the harder it has to work to ensure its clean. Pumps and filters have to remove contaminates so it makes sense that the more there are in the pool the harder their job is.  Swimming pools are regularly checked and additional chlorine is added if required. Chlorine doesn’t come cheap and if everybody showered before swimming it would decrease the cost of pool chemicals by a third.

Removing contaminates:

The above are secondary to the main issue.  Before you shower your body (and that of your child)  will have substances such as sweat, soap, perfume, shampoo, deodorant, urine and even feces…..yes POO!  Chlorine is added to pool water to kill communicable pathogens (particularly bacterial or parasitic), but it doesn’t kill everything. Cryptosporidium (a germ that causes diarrhoea that is found in infected people’s stools and cannot be seen by the naked eye) can live for days in chlorine.

Imagine this, every swimmer that gets in the pool in one day contaminates it with a little urine and feces – the amounts will quickly add up and the result is that you and your child are swimming in a concoction of bodily fluids, now can you understand why we insist on ‘double bagging’ and showering!

So please take the time to properly shower before your lesson, not just a quick run through but a good wash to remove all those ‘yucky’ contaminates.


Thanks for reading and if you’ve found this post informative please add a comment.

Fiona Munt-Whittle




Dispelling the Myths of dry and secondary drowning.

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We have recently seen some stories regarding dry or secondary drowning on social media sites that understandably may make you hesitant about taking your baby swimming if you do not know all the facts so here we are setting the record straight.

There are three types of drowning. Dry, Wet and Secondary.

Many people if not all have experienced “something going down the wrong way”, during drinking. When this happens the person coughs and splutter then still feeling a tickle in their throat they have a drink of water or two until the discomfort has gone. In the throat we have the food pipe (oesophagus) and the wind pipe (trachea) in between is a flap (epiglottis). This flap closes when we swallow to protect water entering the lungs.

Dry drowning.

If a person gets into difficulty in the water, they may have some water go down the throat. The flap or epiglottis as described above will snap shut in a conscious person, protecting the lungs from large amounts of water, however as it shuts it may catch a small amount of water. This normally doesn’t have much effect as our lungs need to be moist to work, this is why in cold weather we can see our breath (water vapour). Breathing in water can cause vocal chords to spasm and close up, this shuts off his airways, making it hard to breathe – symptoms of dry drowning generally happen immediately after the incident.

Secondary drowning.

If the small amount of water is dirty e.g. From a lake or river rather than a swimming pool where the water is treated and filtered continuously. This can cause a chest infection (pneumonia) up to 72 hours after the incident, if in doubt always seek medical attention at an A & E department.

Wet drowning

This occurs when the casualty becomes unconscious and the flap (epiglottis) relaxes and the lungs fill with water. Only resuscitation can assist in this case.

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To summarise:-

The body has protective measures in place to prevent water entering the lungs, if a small amount of clean water does enter the lungs this will have little effect as the lungs need to be moist to work. If the water is dirty this may cause an infection however this is rare. If any signs of breathing difficulties are displayed up to 72 hours (3 days) after an incident in water then urgent medical attention must be sought.

Symptoms to look for:

Dry drowning and secondary drowning have the same symptoms. They include:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Sudden changes in behaviour

In most cases symptoms will improve by themselves but it is worth getting checked out if you are concerned as the symptoms can be treated easily with oxygen or ventilation in a hospital.

We hope this helps to reassure you that although dry and secondary drowning DOES exist (although these are not official terms) it is a very rare phenomenon and only accounts for around 1% of all drowning cases.

Our pools are regularly filtered and checked which removes the risk of secondary drowning and all our teachers are first aid trained (lifeguards) but have never (and never expect to) treat a case of dry drowning.

Thank you to George Tarte of Aquatic Rescue Training for the in-depth and reassuring information and thanks to you for reading, please feel free to comment if you have found this post useful.

Fiona Munt-Whittle

photo 2

Excuses, excuses


Do any of these sound familiar?

  • My tummy just isn’t the same since giving birth.
  • I have cellulite
  • I just need to go to the gym for a few months first
  • I don’t want to get my hair wet

Throughout my life as a Mother and Swimming Instructor I’ve heard these reasons and many more countless times, they are the excuses used to not to get into a swimming pool.  I’ve heard Mum’s say them with real pained expressions on their faces, they really, really don’t want to strip off down to a swimming costume and walk through the pool area half naked!

I understand, I really do – I’ve had four children and I’m not 18 anymore but yet nearly every day I’m donning one of my swimming costumes, introducing myself to people on poolside and getting in and out of the pool in front of the lifeguards and other swimmers!  I may have an advantage, I have a history with water – I’ve been swimming since I was young and I’ve never stopped so I suppose I’m not fazed by the whole experience but that’s not the reason why I get in the water.  I get in because I want to teach babies how to swim, I want those babies to grow up confident in water and have those all-important life-saving skills, I want to see them progress, to dive to the bottom of the pool, to swim widths then lengths, to roll about, to blow bubbles in the water, to do handstands and then to get out at the end and confidently walk back to the changing rooms.

Now we all know the benefits of getting babies into the swimming pool as young as possible, you are literally exchanging one watery environment for another – babies love it!  You are helping your child to boost their intelligence, to strengthen their muscles and to socialise with others.

But let’s say you’re past that stage, your child(ren) already love going swimming and pester you to take them to the local pool at every opportunity, you really want to take them but can’t face putting your cellulite or love handles on show so you sit by the side whilst they splash about in the shallows complaining to the Mum’s around you “I’ll get in once I’ve got rid of this extra weight” or “once I find a swimsuit that covers all my body I’ll be happy to get in” – you may notice your child(ren) go quiet and absorb what you are saying – this is what they hear “I can only have fun if I’m physically perfect”.

above water

It may sound severe but that is literally what you are saying, you can only wear a swimming costume if you look flawless!  In this day and age of media pressure, expecting everyone to want to look like a super model it is not surprising that’s how you feel but is that also how you want your child(ren) to feel?  They look to you to be the example so I say now is the time to shrug off those expectations, show your children that you can have fun whatever you look like and throw on your swimming cossie and get in that water!

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle

Is it easy to be an Ethical Small Business?

We think it is, actually maybe it is easier when you have a smaller committed team.  Right from the beginning I made a conscious effort to move my business forward ethically and as Aquatots grew it became a core value – the big secret is TRUST! The office staff, the swimming instructors and I trust each other and we all trust in the ‘product’ – we know our Aquatots methods and techniques for teaching babies to swim are the very best!   As a team we are easily able to project to our customers that we are a business that is transparent and has nothing to hide, this is why we have a huge customer retention rate and have a healthy intake of new swimmers every term.


So what other ethical practices can a small business adopt?   How many employers overlook their employees and are rigid and inconsistent, how many are cash orientated to a point that profit over quality?  Of course as a business you need to generate an income to flourish and grow but a steady rate is preferable to ‘burnout’– here at Aquatots Swimming we recognise everybody’s strengths and encourage idea sharing and active participation in decision making – that’s what makes us so strong and able to compete in an every growing market for baby swimming lessons.


Aquatots Swimming is not just a company that talks about sustainability we actively do our part in supporting the community by employing people local to our swimming pool venues and giving them constant training and support , we also work alongside other local small businesses – employing their talents as consultants and suppliers.  We do our best to minimise energy use and waste, we utilise recycled products and materials from ink cartridges to paper and we are exploring ways on how to broaden that to include outgrown swimming costumes and baby swimming equipment.

baby and toy

Aquatots understands that ethical values mean different things to different people, but I have been lucky to be able to match my moral values to those of the business and the people I have employed have been completely on-board.  We all understand that being ethical helps us to be sustainable which in turn gives our swimmers the security that we will be here, giving 100%, from the first swimming lesson right up to when our swimmers leave us.

Sister and brother

Thanks for reading

Fiona Munt-Whittle

Aquatots Managing Director