I joined Aberdeen ASC when I was 12 or 13 years old, having learned about the club's fantastic reputation in and around the Aberdeen area. I loved my time as a competitive swimmer: swimming taught me motivation, self-management and discipline, but, most importantly, I made new friends for life. I soon got involved with Aberdeen LTS becoming an assistant in the water. Once I was of the right age, I progressed to my Level 1 UKCC Teaching Course.
In Aberdeen Learn to Swim, our large team of 30 teachers works with children of different abilities and backgrounds. Having taught every level of the LTS scheme from Aqua Fun all the way to Club Ready, I have discovered how well each level is tailored to the specific skills of the children within the class. In my opinion, that's what makes our LTS stand out: our attention to detail and how thorough the process is. Before each lesson teachers check the website that is used for managing swimming progress, Course Pro. This helps us to identify areas for improvement and create a lesson plan tailored to the swimmer's needs. We also produce an evaluation after each lesson where we write about promotions, what still needs to be improved and whether the lesson was enjoyed by the swimmers. Such detailed approach enables us to oversee the progress and provide continuous improvement to create an enjoyable but hard-working atmosphere for our customers.
Why do we do it? I think the simple answer for many is because we love our job. The satisfaction of seeing a swimmer progress and recognising the results of your work is invaluable. When I first started teaching, I taught a boy in the first level, Aqua Fun. Several weeks ago, I covered for another teacher and saw this student, who had progressed all the way to Club Ready and was going into our first level of squad competitive swimming. It brought memories of a 5 year old boy, who was scared to put his face in the water, and it was amazing to see that he was now entering the world of competitive swimming.
At the age of 17, a swimming teacher already, I completed my UKCC Level 1 Coaching qualification. Having been a competitive swimmer myself, I love to help with the younger squads and try use my knowledge of swimming to improve their technique and skills. Many describe it as a community, which I would agree with, as the swimmers from different squads soon get to know each other very well. The Club Championships are a great event where every swimmer in the club can compete, this is a great opportunity for the younger swimmers to watch the older ones race and to see where they may progress to.
Overall, my career in swimming teaching has been extremely rewarding. It is a passion that I will now have for life. I would recommend the club without hesitation. My swimming and teaching background has helped me with my University application, Duke of Edinburgh awards and work experience opportunities. During job interviews, potential employers like to hear about my sports career of a swimmer, teacher and coach. I cannot thank Alison enough along with everyone else involved with Aberdeen LTS and ASC.
I consider my time with Aberdeen LTS to be a journey: I have progressed both personally and professionally since I joined some 6 years ago. Like most teachers, I started off as a teaching assistant, and I have gone on to complete my Level 1 and Level 2 teaching qualifications. Unlike most teachers I am not a competitive swimmer myself; however, I have a passion to share knowledge and aid the learning of those around me, and this is true for every swimmer I teach, along with my assistants and fellow swimming teachers.
I have been a part of, and indeed have helped to shape, the culture at Aberdeen LTS over the years. Our culture is one of inclusion and constant progression. An example of this is the approach we take to our swimmers, who we challenge each week with tailor made lessons. This enables us to focus specifically on what they require from a skills perspective and equally to inspire and shape them into young and enthused athletes.
Over the years I have taught hundreds of swimmers, and I am delighted to see so many of them develop from the learn to swim programme and into our club. We deliver this by promoting teaching based on the Scottish Swimming Framework which has led to us achieving the Swimark Plus accreditation, the highest available.
More recently, I have had the privilege to mentor assistants as they begin the process of gaining their teaching qualifications. Teaching is not always easy, and it requires a lot of skill, passion and patience. The same can be said for learning, and I often tell my swimmers that swimming a stroke can be like a jigsaw puzzle where each of the individual aspects must be mastered and put together in the right order to form an efficient stroke. It’s very rewarding it is to see a swimmer who, masters a stroke and starts to swim with finesse, despite challenges along the way. This also applies when I see my assistants teaching: it’s a sense of pride and shared achievement.
My journey with Aberdeen LTS is far from over and I intend to maintain this throughout my time at university since the hours are flexible and the rate of pay is competitive. I will be taking some time out later this year to study in Canada, and I have already negotiated my return - our management team is very accommodating, where possible, for any situation. I can’t thank those who have been part of my journey to date enough.
I began my journey with Aberdeen Amateur Swim Club as a competitive swimmer and joined the fitness squad when I stopped competing. I felt that I could use my knowledge of swimming to help others so I began working as an assistant in LTS lessons 4 years ago. Each session is different and it is a very rewarding experience watching the swimmers grow in confidence each week. In 2017 I decided to take the next step and train to become a teacher through the club and this has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.
During my work as an assistant and a teacher, I have experienced all levels of LTS. Most of my time has been spent teaching at the beginner level, and for many of the children I teach, this is their first experience in a swimming environment. I feel that one of the strong points of Aberdeen LTS is that lessons are taught in an encouraging, fun and interactive setting.
Each week I try to plan different and exciting lessons for my swimmers, teaching them new skills through games. My aim is to ensure that they enjoy the lessons and look forward to learning more. In the beginner level classes, the teacher is supported by two assistants whereas higher level classes have a teacher with one assistant. In LTS, we recognise each child has different strengths and weaknesses so specific and constructive feedback is given to each swimmer to ensure that our activities are targeted. I feel that having the assistants in the water is very beneficial to the progress of the swimmer since they are able to provide demonstrations and additional support. This allows swimmers to try new skills in a safe and supportive environment.
In my opinion, teaching at Aberdeen LTS is extremely rewarding. I have taught many swimmers over the past few years and watching them progress over a short period of time makes me feel proud. We regularly have children enter the scheme who are initially unsure about the water and see them transform into confident and accomplished swimmers who are excited to learn and improve.
I have been a part of Aberdeen Amateur Swimming Club (AASC) for over ten years. The experience has been invaluable and has opened many new doors for me. I also feel that the discipline of swimming competitively and achieving my teaching and coaching qualifications has strengthened my commitment, dedication and determination in all aspects of my life. Through my involvement with the club, I have also been lucky enough to make lifelong friendships.
My journey with the club started ...when I learned to swim with the AASC Learn to Swim scheme. On completion of the scheme I progressed to competitive swimming and used my extensive swimming experience to get my first job as a swimming assistant. When I reached 16, I completed my swimming teaching qualification through the club and I have been teaching and coaching swimming for two years now. I love my job and it is a great passion for me. In my view, Aberdeen LTS excels due to the attention to detail employed by our teachers and coaches, and their dedication to providing the necessary support to all swimmers. Each week, before the lessons begin, LTS teachers carry out a review of Course Pro data to track progress and evaluate the learning needs of each swimmer. The results are used to ensure that the lesson plan is tailored to the swimmers' individual learning priorities. This means that every lesson is fun, productive and targeted to the specific focus areas identified from the results. At the lower levels of the scheme we always have two teaching assistants in every class. These assistants are placed in the pool and are expected to provide hands-on support to the learners. This enables the lessons to be more active since the swimmers then feel more confident in the water. In the Learn to Swim classes we make a great effort to ensure that all of our swimmers are challenged and are reaching their full potential. An example of this is a young girl I used to teach in an Aqua Fun class. She had transferred over from another teaching scheme and was put into a class to match the level of her previous swimming lessons. Her motivation was high and consequentially she was finding the lessons a little too easy. We took the decision to reassess her for Swim Skills 1 (the next level up) and the result of the assessment was that she was actually ready to be promoted to Swim Skills 2. Because of this she is now challenged to the correct level, enjoys swimming much more, and is learning new skills. The LTS scheme welcomes swimmers of all ages and abilities and we believe that anyone can learn to swim with the benefit of encouragement and good coaching. AASC LTS is a positive, fun, and challenging learning environment for children and in my case it has been the beginning of a lifelong passion and provide a stepping stone to an exciting career in sports.