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In exchange for an honest review on this blog, British Swim School of Central MD has provided my family with free swim lessons. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Caroline is still rocking her purple swim cap at the Seahorse level with British Swim School. She’s been at this level now since the beginning of August (two months). She’s so very close to mastering the skills that I discussed in this original introduction to the Seahorse level. Caroline can jump into the water, twist herself around with very minimal assistance, and then do her starfish (back float) unassisted for a few seconds. Ms Christine holds her head and talks her through keeping her chin back, arms out, belly up, and legs out. She’ll let go of Caroline for a few seconds, and Caroline can maintain the float! We are working towards a goal of 10-20 seconds on her own. She has the skill down, so once she gains the confidence, she’ll be running with it!
This month, I actually want to take a moment, however, to highlight Caroline’s AMAZING instructor- Ms. Christine! Ms Christine has been Caroline’s instructor now for the last two levels, and she is absolutely amazing. Caroline trusts her, and so do I! It is very visible how comfortable she is with children. She keeps the class entertaining, while challenging the children at the perfect level. She remembers each child’s strengths and creates individual challenges based on their skill level within the class. She sings songs, and she just has a great relationship with the children. Christine was gracious enough to answer a few interview questions so we could get to know her better. Enjoy!
1) How long have you
been a swim instructor with British Swim School?
I have been a BSS instructor since March 2016. So almost a
year and a half now.
2) How did you learn
how to swim?
My family taught me how to swim. Mostly my grandmother- she actually taught both my older brother and I. She helped us float first, and
then taught us how to move our way through the water. Similar to how British
Swim School teaches. I was never in swim lessons as a child, nor was I ever on a
swim team. But I spent most of my summers at the pool and with my grandmothers
and other family members help I learned how to swim the four strokes, tread
water, and float.
3) Why did you choose
to become a swim instructor?
My brother actually had friends that worked at British
Swim School and they had tried to recruit him, and he decided to extend that to
me. He thought I would be good for the job because I would be working with
children. I work with children with my other job and I volunteer at camps for
children. So I knew that I would have fun with this job and be good at it which
is ultimately why I decided to get an interview with British Swim School.
4) What’s the best
part of your job?
Without a doubt working with the children. I love working
with children and with British Swim School you see the same group of children
every week so you create bonds with them and learn about their lives. Having
that special bond with a certain group of children makes the job fun and makes it
the best part of the job.
5) What is the most
rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is when “my children”
graduate to the next level. As mentioned before you create a bond with the
children you work with and seeing them improve all of their skills enough to
move up gives you so much pride. I am pretty sure that if you asked all of the
instructors this question we would all have the same answer. Some children you
end up having in the same level for months at a time and sometimes this can be
because they are struggling with one of the requirements to be able to move up.
I actually had a child in one of my Turtle 1 classes for a year. I saw him
struggle at first, then improve, then improve more. I saw how determined he was
to get something correct and I actually just graduated him to the next level. I
was so proud I came very close to shedding tears of joy.
6) How would you
describe your style as a swim instructor?
I like to get a feel for the child first. Sometimes this
information can come from questioning the parents but I still like to see the
child do something in the water. Sometimes a child will not do an exercise with
a parent, or the parent may be nervous with the child, and the parent may think
the child cannot do that specific exercise. But, the child may be able to do it
but with me or by themselves. So I like to get a feel by seeing the child do
the exercise while I stand there next to them, or hold on to them, and see
where they are struggling. I also always want my children to try their best- if
I know they can do something I will try to get them to do whatever it is by
themselves, while also giving little pushes for them to do one step more.
7) Do you have any
advice for parents who are hesitant to put their kids in swim lessons?
My advice would be to do it and the younger the better.
British Swim School allows children as young as three months to join our
school. At three months babies do not have fears. We, as the adults, show them
what is to be feared, or as they get older they come to their own conclusions.
But at three months to a year we can show them that water is fun and something
that they do not have to be afraid of. Once a child is older, such as two or
three, if they have not been in the water yet (and I am talking about a pool not
a bathtub) there is a high chance that the child will be afraid to get in- at
least in the beginning. It’s unknown territory and they have developed enough to
know that something they are not familiar with is dangerous. I say this even if
you as a parent do not want to put them in swim lessons, still get them in the
water. Go to a community pool, neighborhood pool etc. and play in the pool,
have fun. But, with swim lessons there is the added bonus of having an
instructor there that knows what pace to go at and how to get a child to
overcome their fears, and instead have fun and learn how to swim in the water.
8) How do you handle
fearful children in class?
I sing songs. I recognize that a child is afraid and just
throwing them right into an exercise would not be beneficial. I hold the child
and slowly sing songs to them while I slowly move them through the water in an
upright position. I also encourage them to move their hands through the water
and splash. Once I notice the child is calming down I slowly, while still singing, go into the exercise. Also, as you know, because I have done this with your
daughter, if the child is afraid to go underwater or lay on their
backs in the water, I ask them to look for water creatures, such as fish or
octopuses. I tell them for example, that I have fish in the water and I need
them to tell me if there are any pink ones because pink is my favorite color.
9) How do you make
the class engaging for young babies and toddlers?
One of my favorite things to do in our Tadpole classes,
which is our water acclamation class, is to play hungry hippos. I have the
parents swim the babies around on their bellies. They grab balls which are
all around the pool and swim over to a bucket to throw the ball into. This gets
the babies and parents moving around, and the babies love playing with the balls- everyone just has fun with the game. I also sing songs, sometimes made up
silly songs, I make silly faces, and I ask the children to find sea animals.
There are lots of different things that you can do to make the class engaging
so that everyone is involved and having fun.
10) As a parent, I’ve
noticed that everyone at British Swim School really works as a team. How would you describe the
overall team mentality?
As I am sure you have noticed, the same people are always
there. This is what creates such a great team mentality. Jessica, for example,
for a year now has been the person on deck while I am in the water, and there
are a couple other Instructors and Deck Ambassadors that I am always working
them. You create a relationship with these people made out of friendship,
trust, and respect. We know each other well. We know when someone needs help.
But, basically, just like with the children, you create a bond and it makes
coming to work fun and it creates such a great team of people.
11) What does a
typical work week look like for you?
My week shifts are seven classes long and my weekend shift
is six classes long which comes to a three or three and half hour shift, but I
also have to get to work before the start of classes so each of my shifts is
about four hours long. Some shifts are longer though. I believe British Swim
Schools longest shift is around six or eight hours long. I teach the baby
classes. I was trained for baby class and it is what I love to teach. Most of
my classes consist of Tadpole, Swimboree, Seahorse (under 3 classes) and Minnow
which is one of the first classes children over three go into.
British Swim Schools Swim Instructors’day off. I happen to have two jobs, so I
work at British Swim School on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. Also Sundays
are an early morning shift. I leave my house at 7 am to get to work by 7:30 am. I work at my other job on all the other days of the week. Sometimes I am
out of the water. Sometimes I pick up Deck Ambassador shifts, so instead of being an instructor I am
taking care of attendance, parents, and making sure the pool is ready.
12) If you had the
chance, what’s the one thing you’d tell all of your student’s parents?
I would tell them that I love working with their children,
I love their children, and thank you for trusting your children with me.
13) Why would you
recommend British Swim School over another swim program?
Let me first start by saying that British Swim School is
the only swim school that I have worked for. So, I do not know how other swim
schools run their programs. But, I will say that I love that British Swim
School focuses on survival. We teach floating as the first thing and then a
roll over float. These two skills can save a child’s and adult’s life. Yes,
knowing the strokes and knowing how to work your way across a pool is
important. But knowing how to float and call out for help, and roll from your
belly to your back and float can save your life. That is important to know, and
I love how British Swim School teaches these skills in the first couple of
classes your child takes, and also emphasizes these skills in all of the levels.
Huge thanks to Ms. Christine for taking the time to answer all of these questions! And yes, she really is as great as she sounds. If you can get a class with her, definitely do so!
Special $15 Credit
If you live in Montgomery County or Frederick County, Maryland, and are interested in signing up for your first lesson, I am really excited to announce that you can receive a $15 credit towards your account just by mentioning my full name: Katrina Villegas! The information for our central Maryland British Swim Schools can all be found at this link. And not to worry if you live elsewhere, there are British Swim Schools ALL over the US!
Other Posts of Interest:
British Swim School- Tadpole class (level 1)
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