Choosing The Right Swim School


Teacher in pool explaining next exercise to children swimmers sat on the side of swimming pool.

Swim School lesson with Aquatots Swimming Ltd

All Aquatots teachers come to us with an existing ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) or STA (Swimming Teacher Association) level 2 qualification. This means they have all undergone the relevant training in a nationally recognised framework to ensure that before they even begin their hundred hours of Aquatots training they are able to deliver lessons to a high and consistent level. (This qualification has been designed by both the ASA and the STA to train would be swimming Teachers to teach children from the ages of 3 upwards.)  This is true of all professional swimming teachers so what happens when your Swim School or teacher are not able to meet your expectations?

Six child swimmers holding a life saving buoyancy aid whilst in a swimming pool

Swim School Swimmers using a life-saving device with Aquatots Swimming Ltd

Moving Swim Schools with your young child is a daunting concept, when you’ve made a decision to start your baby on a swimming journey you hope to be able to continue to the point where they are confident and able without the upheaval of change, sometimes this is unachievable. Perhaps your Swim School does not have a suitable class for you anymore or you feel that your child is not progressing or even that they are getting moved on without being ready.  At Aquatots we have welcomed many children from other Swim Schools and because of that we have techniques and methods to help with the transition.

Teacher in swimming pool with 8 parents and 8 young children.

Swimming Session with Aquatots teacher at Bettridge School in Cheltenham.

We have spoken to some of our existing parents that have swum with other baby Swim Schools and asked them about their move to Aquatots.

Catherine and Aoibheann joined us after they had been swimming for 15 months already.  Their previous Swim School had based Aoibheann’s swimming level on her age and so we questioned this, we base a child’s level on their ability to achieve the skills set at the level they are in! We felt that Aoibheann (when assessed) her skills were matched to our Dolphin (level 3) course but would assess during initial lessons and move her up or down if appropriate.  Although it wasn’t smooth sailing to start with, our teacher Luke offered continuous advice and with the perseverance of her parents Aoibheann is now “moving through the levels seamlessly”. Catherine has summed up their experience by saying “I’m not sure if the benefits we have witnessed are because you are an independent Swim School or actually just because you have teachers who are caring, compassionate, patient and invested in child development.”

Baby sat on a floating disk in the middle of a swimming pool unaided and ready to submerge from the side into the water.

Baby swimming with Aquatots Swimming Ltd

Nadia and Freddie joined us a year ago after taking one of our free assessment sessions, they were looking for a new Swim School as Nadia felt that her existing class had outgrown the pool but her existing Swim School were not willing to either offer a different location or to reduce class numbers.  We dropped Freddie down a level to meet his existing skills as we did not want to make the transition harder by introducing him to a level too advanced for him. Nadia was in total agreement as she felt that previously Freddie had been “moved up to the next level whether they had achieved all the skills or not”.  Our teacher Lisa was very supportive and made the concession that Freddie could continue using the ‘cue’ word for submersion that he had previously learned.  When we asked Nadia of her experience of now swimming with an independent Swim School instead of a franchise, she said “It is a lot more personalised” and prefers it to the previous “automatic rolling system” that was in place in her last Swim School.

Young child swim in pool looking directly into the camera

Aquatots Swimmer during a lesson

Kim brought Megan and Rory to swim with us recently after being with her previous Swim School for two and a half years, they had to move after Rory’s class was cancelled with just 48 hours’ notice! Being three, Megan’s transition has been a bit rocky but Kim feels that we have supported the move by “allowing us to go at our own pace and adapting exercises for her” and by giving “encouragement when she does join in”.

Father and child in swimming pool, child is floating on her back and using flippers.

Advanced Aquatots Swimmer floating on back

Sometimes an Aquatot has to move into an area where we do not offer courses and unfortunately this does not always work out well!  After over 2 years of swimming with us we had to say goodbye to parent Jane and Aquatots Lewis and Alexander. Jane booked onto a course with another Swim School once settled so that her boys could continue learning but after a missed start of term due to a lack of information it led to a disappointing remainder of the term with Jane summing the lessons up to “bouncing around a pool singing nursery rhymes”.  We also have Lyndsay and Evelyne who moved and tried another Swim School and were so unhappy with it that they now travel over an hour every week for their Aquatots lesson!

Young child with mother in swimming pool swimming towards a ball.

If you live in an area where we do not swim then please look for the following in your chosen Swim School:

  • Qualified and knowledgeable teachers – the ASA recommends no more than 12 learners to one teacher during a lesson (we average at 5 children per class!) However, we never take more than 8 in a class.
  • Fun and Games – a good swimming lesson will take a games-based approach. If it is not enjoyable your child is less likely to learn.
  • Water skills and awareness – teachers should be actively helping your child to develop water skills such as buoyancy and confidence.
  • Foundation framework core skills – your Swim School should be aiming to teach the four strokes in swimming.
  • Independent Swim School versus franchise – our Managing Director and founder of Aquatots Swimming Ltd shares her thoughts on why Aquatots has and will always be an independent baby Swim School.

I have thought long and hard about franchising/licensing and have even met with professionals to find out if it could be done – but always I come up against the same stumbling blocks, sacrificing the quality of the product for the quantity of being able to churn out more Teachers.  

I am not prepared to condense my training programme still further to make it popular to the masses.  At the moment, depending on the Teacher, it now takes between 12 and 18 months to become fully qualified, which gives the new Teacher plenty of time to work through the programme both in class and on dry land.

 I personally oversee their initial training programme and then one of my senior Teachers will carry on their training, level by level, until they are ready to move on.  There are a number of exams to be taken to test for competency along the way, but these all help the Teacher to gain in confidence and knowledge.  Babies (and parents) are very complex and child development is also part of their training.”

4 young swimmers stand on the side of a swimming pool holding certificates with managing director Fiona standing between them.

Swim School swimmers with MD Fiona Munt-Whittle

We try hard to do our very best for all our swimmers and are sure that the personal ‘service’ that our parents feel is down to the fact that we really do care about each individual Aquatot and really want them to succeed in achieving the lifelong skill of swimming.

Thank you for reading




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