Thursday, 8 December 2011

Still pinching myself

Last night at a committee meeting for The Court Amateur Swimming Club I found out I have been awarded Volunteer of the Year 2011.  I have also been briefed that this means I have to take my swimsuit with me to the pool when I go to teach on Friday night as I will be pushed in. 

I love my swimming life and having looked back at this year, I can't quite believe what I attempted and achieved. 

I couldn't even put my head under water at the beginning of the year.  Now I jump in, swim with my head underwater and attempt new things.

The year started with a Level 1 Teaching Aquatics Course.  Closely followed by a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ).  I attempted this but failed on the timed swims.

Then I was invited to The House of Commons in May to receive the Big Splash Award

Following this I have done several Continuing Professional Development Courses to enable me to teach people with disabilities.

Now to end the year on this high I can't quite believe the year I have had.  It has certainly been challenging with things not being in my control.  For instance the PINK POOL NIGHT being postponed due to Wellington Civic and Leisure Centre not reopening in time for the event in January.

On the whole I can be proud of what I have achieved and am achieving so I would definitely call this year a success.

I wish everyone a very wonderful Christmas and an extremely Happy New Year.

Best wishes


Monday, 7 November 2011

Training Day

I had a wonderful day yesterday doing CPD training thanks to the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) at Kingswinford. 

I travelled with a colleague from the swimming club I teach at.  We were so glad my husband was driving as the fog was so thick the satnav couldn't work.  We were in the middle of Wolverhampton when we realised we were lost.  At that point the satnav came back to life and we made it safely to our destination.

It was lovely to see old friends/acquaintances and make new ones.  While I was talking to new acquaintances my colleague said "It's you".  "What's me?"  I replied.

Your Story is in that leaflet (see pic) I was completely shocked. 

We then headed off to our workshops for the morning.

It was lovely to see so many people representing Shropshire at the training day.  It was such a worthwhile day and I learnt so much.

A lot of the information I can use not only at the swimming club but also Ican2 Sports and Leisure for dealing with all sorts of disabilities.

The most important thing to remember is not to shout at children with disabilities so play acting is the way round this.  I must remember to put on an angry face by putting my hands on my hips and blowing out my cheeks.  This way the child will know they have done something wrong.  I will then have to patiently explain what they have done wrong and help them correct their behaviour. 

It is difficult not being a parent myself but I am definitely going to have to learn patience.  It all comes with experience and I know I will not be alone on this journey.

I hope everyone had a good weekend.

Best wishes


Friday, 30 September 2011

At last I can run a PINK POOL NIGHT

I have finally had confirmation that Swimming After Surgery (SAS) will be having a PINK POOL NIGHT on Saturday 28th January at 7.30 pm to help raise funds for this worthwhile project.

There will be a raffle as well as other fund raising ideas which include paying forfeits for those who don't want to wear PINK.

The swimming pool will be dyed pink and the dye disperses naturally through the filtration system of the pool.

I know this from a previous experience in a pool dyed pink.  It is not harmful at all.

I am now busy preparing posters and tickets etc.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Swimming After Surgery (SAS)

Finally after a long time and a lot of patience things are beginning to take off. 

Numbers are increasing slowly but surely for this project and I am thrilled with what the project has managed to do so far.

Not only does it help women in the water feel better but it also gives them confidence so that they can go out and do things they didn't they ever would again when they had surgery.

One lady is back driving and now volunteers in the community.

The other benefits are amazing.  Socialising and feeling alive again is one of the major benefits of the project.

I am so pleased I had the idea and got on with it.

Now all I have to do is keep the project running with my wonderful helpful committee. 

Swimming After Surgery (SAS) sessions are held on Wednesday evenings from 6.30 - 7.30pm at Short Wood Primary School Pool in Wellington for ladies who have had breast cancer surgery.

If anyone wishes to find out further information or book a place then please feel free to call 01952 371941.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Active Lifestyle Awards Oakengates

Last night I attended the Active Lifestyle Awards at Oakengates Theatre. 

I wasn't there to obtain an award I had been invited by a fellow volunteer of Ican2.  I have never been to an evening like it.

It was an amazing evening with so many wonderful inspiring stories of young people.

There were stories of various people who give up their time to help others voluntarily.

After the award ceremony I met Eric Smith from BBC Radio Shropshire.  What a lovely man.  He was really interested in everyone and made mental notes of who everyone was and what stories they had to tell.

I also met up with some old contacts who helped me in 2008 and I hadn't seen since as well as some new faces.

It was a wonderful evening and one I will never ever forget.

Best wishes to everyone.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Swimming After Surgery (SAS)

Swimming After Surgery (SAS) sessions are held at Short Wood Primary School Pool, Limekiln Lane, Wellington TF1 2JA AT 6.30 - 7.30 pm on Wednesday evenings.

These sessions are currently aime at ladies recovery from breast cancer surgery.

If you know of anyone who may be interested in attending these sessions or want further information then please telephone 01952 371941 for further information or to book a place.

Best wishes


Good News at last

Having attempted to complete my first ever funding application form in time for a deadline in March 2011 and successfully submitting it and posting further information off as it was required I waited with baited breath.

Last week I received good news in that a cheque arrived for the full amount I had requested in my funding bid.  This means that Swimming After Surgery (SAS) will continue for 12 months thanks to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Also the Lions Club of Ironbridge and Severn Gorge and Rotary of Wellington have kept the project going while waiting for funding from Macmillan Cancer Support.

I now have other fundraising ideas up my sleeve including dying a swimming pool pink and having a pink pool night for everyone.  This will be done to coincide with the re-opening of Wellington swimming pool and I can't wait.

More hard work ahead but so rewarding.

FREE swimming sessions/lessons for 12 weeks for ladies who have had breast cancer surgery whether it be lumpectomies or a mastectomy it doesn't matter.  Just getting a lady back in the water following surgery so that they can build their confidence is what the project is all about.

It also doesn't matter if a lady can't attend consecutive weeks they will still get their full 12 weeks of sessions.

For further information please telephone 01952 371941 (there is an answerphone - if you do get this please leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I possibly can).

Best wishes to you all.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Big Splash Continued

Here is a link to the BBC Big Splash

There are so many swim heroes I was amazed to hear their stories of courage and bravery.

It was a lovely evening and one I will never forget.

Best wishes


Friday, 13 May 2011

The Big Splash

I made a big splash in London yesterday. 

I am still pinching myself.  I can't believe that I got a trophy for what I do to help others.  I do it because I want to and the project Swimming After Surgery (SAS) was something that was badly needed.  It is a stepping stone between hospital treatment and public swimming to enable patients to gain their confidence to be able to move on with their swimming and with their lives.

Travelling to London yesterday by car was nerve racking and I was having to take deep breaths to get through it. 

My husband and I arrived early at the House of Commons a place I have never visited in my life before. 

The taxi driver who took us to the House of Commons was kind and very generous to us.  He ensured we got to where we wanted to go and dropped us as near as he could to save us struggling with the wheelchair.  He directed us to three policeman who would help us gain entry.

I was really nervous and really early.  They were concerned as to why we had arrived so early but I explained that we had travelled from Telford and that we were unsure as to how long it would take to get through the traffic and security.

They gave us a pass for the Public Gallery (this is Free). 

I was in my element listening to the speeches as it was about Fishing Law.  Something I used to work in as a legal secretary.  I was amazed listening to the lady MP from S.E. Cornwall (I was born in Cornwall) so this made my afternoon.

We then left the public gallery and headed down to the lobby.  I ended up people watching.

As soon as Mark Foster arrived I knew it was the right time to go to the security staff and head to where the reception was going to be. 

Little did I know how overwhelmed I would feel.  The building is very large and impressive. 

When we arrived at the reception I spoke to Mark Foster who is very down to earth. 

Myself and the other Swim Heros met outside.  There were some amazing stories and these have certainly stuck with me.  Many of them were humbling.

When I was called forward for my award I got a bit emotional but managed to keep it in check just to get through it. 

The award is not for me but for what I do with Swimming After Surgery (SAS).  To gain recognition so quickly for it has meant so very much. 

To find out more click this link

I really enjoy my swimming life and hope that othes will find satisfaction in their swimming.

Best wishes


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Wednesday 20th April 2011

What a day.  I spent the day at Shropshire Jelly drafting replies for funding applications.   I also met some wonderful supportive people.

Following that it was a session of Swimming After Surgery (SAS), where we had to say goodbye to Heidi one of the swimming instructors.  It was decided we would give aqua aerobics (low impact) a go.  This was so funny and we ended up laughing so much.  No tears were shed.

It was an amazing evening and one I will never forget.  My limbs are aching a bit today but I thoroughly enjoyed the session. 

Heidi will be missed but her replacement is already in post.

Heidi you are amazing with what you have got me to do and achieve.  I know I have lots more to learn and attempt.  My swimming life is certainly taking off.

All of us at Swimming After Surgery (SAS) wish Heidi all the best for the future.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Friday 8th April 2011

Oh boy,

Thursday evening the car broke down at Shrewsbury School where I was undertaking my lifeguard training.

This meant I didn't get home until 8.20 pm after we were recovered by the RAC.

Panic set in of how myself and another candidate staying with us were going to get to Shrewsbury School for the assessment. 

I telephoned the tutor who gave me a telephone number of someone who could help.  He was more than happy to help us out which was a relief.

On the Friday morning we did our CPR training in readiness for the assessment.  We finished by about 11 am.  With plenty of time prior to the asessment which was at 1.30 pm. 

I asked for a quiz (the others groaned) but I am glad I had because it made us relax and realise we knew more than we thought we did.

The assessor arrived and tutor departed the room.  Apprehension and nerves were present not only from candidates but assessor as well.

We needn't have worried he went round the room asking questions.  I had a question which I managed to answer comprehensively while the others then looked at me and smirked, I burst out laughing and had to explain why.

I am pretty gullible and had fallen for things all week from the others including the tutor who had informed us with a straight face that for burns you need cling film if it is too hand (TRUE).  We also need a ruler to measure the new CPR distance on an adult which is 5-6 cm for compressions (FALSE).

The whole room including the assessor laughed when he heard that one.

The theory part was over next it was the dreaded CPR we knew we had to do the adult one but the assessor would choose baby or child (junior).  I was the last to go again in this session. 

While I was on my hands and knees he threw the baby dummy over to me (he had been briefed about my back problem) and asked me to resuscitate it after I had finished the adult.  This was the one dummy I didn't want. 

Next he got us to do bandages and slings.  He then asked various questions.

One candidate got upset as he was asking a few questions at her.  She walked out of the room.  The assessor looked puzzled wondering what happened.  I said she was upset and another candidate was told to inform her she had passed that part of the course.  In fact we all had.

Next we headed off for the swimming pool via cars. 

There were 7 candidates in total (3 reassessments and 4 brand new candidates). 

The 3 reassessments went first.  I wasn't allowed in the water and just had to sit and watch from the side.  Nerves were beginning to build and I was anxious to go but needed to sit and watch.

The three candidates completed their assessments.  Next it was our turn.

Oh boy the people we had trained with during the week were now being assessed at the same time this meant a new "body" had to be introduced.

Yikes nerves set in and I nearly bolted.

We were asked to stand by the assessor while he explained the land rescue.  This is a rescue where we have the discretion of what equipment to use e.g. rope, throw bag, torpedo buoy, pole etc.

I eyed up my position and worked out which rope I was going to go for. 

We had to turn our backs as we are unsure of where our casualty would be in the pool.  As soon as he said go we had to look for casualty and grab our rescue aid.

I threw the rope unfortunately it had tangled so I had to drag it back in, half coil it and throw again.  I did this and safely got my casualty to the side.  I then had to get him out of the pool and sit with his back to the water.
Next was the tow.  We had learnt 3 different types of tow, hip tow, (this one we all dreaded) shoulder tow and arm tow.  He spoke to each of us in turn, he said to the first person arm tow, the next person arm, he spoke to another one (who was muttering hip) he said arm.  Oh no I thought I have the hip tow.  No.  We all had the arm tow to do.

That was it.  "Lifeguard to the rescue" we all shouted jumped in and got to our casulties.  Towing them holding onto their arms.  Once at the side we had to make sure they were safe.

Next came the dreaded dummy.  I had positioned my goggles in place for this one.  (As I wear contact lenses, I was allowed to wear goggles but I had chosen only for the dive to do this and explained this to the assessor).

During the week I had attempted to go first with the dive so the other candidates were giving me this option if I should want to do so.  I insisted I didn't want to go first, so the assessor informed me I was to go last. 

The purpose of the exercise is to get a body from the bottom of the pool and recover it to the side but for safety reasons a dummy is used for the bottom and then swapped for a "live casualty" to be dragged over to the side and then got out of the pool safely.

There are several ways of doing this exercise.  Some people dive in first then obtain the dummy.  Others enter the pool and surface dive for it.

During the week as I have only recently learnt how to surface dive and be happy with how I rescue the dummy I felt better jumping in and then coming up to the surface ready to surface dive.  One of the candidates said "surely that is more scary doing it that way?"  I replied no as I get used to the water and then position myself correctly to collect the dummy.

As I jumped in said the words "lifeguard to the rescue can I have some assistance please" then went under water and bobbed up again ready to collect myself for the surface dive. 

I spoke to my "live" casualty and said please don't go under until I have the dummy and myself to the surface as I have no idea how long this will take me.

I counted 3 and went down.  I had managed to remember the technique and put my head down as far as it would go, I remembered to reach my arms out to the bottom of the pool far longer than I would normally to get past the dummy in order to get a grip.  I got the grip I held onto the dummy and hoisted it up, raised myself out of the water.  Dropped the dummy and then rushed over to "live casualty" and towed him to safety.

I handed him over to an assistant as I climbed out of the pool "unaided" (this means not using steps) and got to him to support his head and lift him out. 

There was a lot of clapping and cheering.  I had lots of support.

Next were the timed swims.  These are not easy as it involves two different swims with two different tows.  One has to be completed in 65 seconds the other in 45 seconds and they are done simultaneously.

The spinal rescue was the final task.  This is a slow entry into the water causing as few ripples as possible.  Accessing the casualty with one hand on the front of the face and the arm pressing into the sternum the other hand has to be placed at the back of the head with the arm pressing into the back.  The rescuer then has to keep that grip and swim under water to turn the casualty over and then tow them to a place where they can stand up to check breathing and stabilise the casualty with a team of lifeguards.

I managed to get the grip perfect but on turning the casualty over I lifted them slightly. The tow was ok and the handover was perfect.

That was the assessment over.  The assessor asked us all to get  changed and he would speak to us afterwards.

We came out into the corridor to find the assessor filling out forms.  I knew I had failed due to the timed swims but I had given it my best shot.

Having fallen on Wednesday during training I couldn't do much else apart from take advice from the tutor and rest the injury.

The assessor informed the group that they had passed except me but he did say that I had achieved an awful lot, far more than most people ever do in their lives and that if it was just on hard work I would have passed too.

He also said he was more than happy to help train me in the water too.

I was crying, he was emotional and struggling to keep his composure while talking to the group but said he needed to talk to me on my own while they filled in their forms.

I can be proud of what I have achieved and what I have attempted.  I just need to work hard on my stamina and get there.  Once I have done this I just have to telephone my tutor and see when I can be reassessed.

In the meantime I keep going with Ican2, the swimming club and my leisure swimming.

Enjoy whatever you are doing.

Best wishes


Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Mid Week

Oh boy what have I let myself in for?

The NPLQ = National Pool Lifeguard Qualification in a week - what on earth was I thinking of when I decided to give this a go.

I have never swum so much in my life let alone dived to the bottom of a six foot pool depth and touched the bottom.

Not only that I have discovered I am scared of the dummy!!!!

I don't know why or how I just am. 

Needless to say this is a huge struggle for me. 

Today I was doing my timed swim of which we have to do two one in 65 seconds and the other in 45 seconds.  I haven't hit the targets yet and today was not going to go my way.

I started out well on my first run and on my recovery of my "casualty" I slipped in the shallow end twice, recovered and set off with my casualty "on tow".

I winced a bit after slipping and then apparently I said "I don't believe this".  Next thing I hear is a scream followed by a sharp yelp of pain.  This was from me.

The casualty ended up being the rescuer and vice versa.

I had pulled my muscle just under my thigh and had to give in.

This was not fun and I had to be looked after and regain my composure to rejoin in the session.

I managed to rescue the dummy on my second attempt everyone was so happy including the "casualty" that takes the place of the dummy to be rescued to the side and then resuscitated.

This put me off what I was supposed to be doing and I forgot the procedures.

I have been to the Swimming After Surgery (SAS) session tonight and been able to practise surfacing diving to help me obtain the dummy from the depths of the deep end of the pool.

I just hope I don't let anyone down on Friday including myself.

No matter what happens I know I have put my all into the course and given 100%.

I will not lose what I have learnt but the experience on Friday will ensure I learn more as I go along even if I don't make the grade.

What a week I am having.

By the way I received my Certificate from the ASA to say I have passed my Level 1 Teaching Aquatics course so I didn't have to wait as long as I had feared.

So it is definitely onwards and upwards for me.

Best wishes


Monday, 21 March 2011

An update

Finally I have managed to complete the theory of my Level 1 Teaching Aquatics Course.

I had my final practial assessment yesterday and this went well.  I learnt a lot and know I have lots more to learn.  As the tutor said every day is a school day.

I won't know the results for approximately 3 months so the waiting game is ahead.  I just have to be patient and hope that all my hard work has been worth it.  I am sure it has but will not know for sure until the IV informs the tutor that we met their standards.

Does this mean I put the two lever arch files into a corner and forget about them?

No.  I am going to be undertaking another course in April for which I will need the knowledge I have learnt from this course in order to pass that.

There is no resting on my laurels I am fully aware there is lots more to learn and lots more to achieve.

On Friday night at the swimming club I had to assess three swimmers from the group I help out with.  This was a challenge in itself for me.  I looked at what they had to do and wondered how I could explain what I wanted but make it fun too so that they didn't get bored with what I was trying to achieve with them.  I managed it.  At the end of the assessment they came and hugged me in their wet swimming costumes.  I didn't mind in the least as I seem to get very hot on poolside and the wetness cools me down.  Other staff don't seem to like this very much and the children become aware of who makes a fuss and who doesn't. 

The three swimmers will be moving up to the next group in swimming but I know I will be able to see them progress with their swimming as the time goes on as I help out with another group later in the evening and eventually they will be trained there.

I just hope I can achieve everything I want to achieve and also make progress.

It is just the waiting game now to find out how well I have done with my training.

Best wishes to everyone.


Monday, 7 March 2011

One Step Forward Three Steps Back

What do I mean by that heading above.  Well I have applied for funding to keep Swimming After Surgery (SAS) afloat.  The only problem is I won't know until the end of May if I have been successful with the funding.

In the meantime the funding that has been secured for Swimming After Surgery (SAS) runs out at the end of March 2011. 

This means unless I can obtain funding from other sources in the meantime Swimming After Surgery (SAS) will be dead in the water, before it has achieved its full potential.

I know times are hard but when women have gone through an ordeal such as breast surgery and come out the other end of hospital treatment they need to move forward with their lives.  This was why this stepping stone was set up.

Now I feel like I was getting somewhere but going nowhere fast, so hence one step forward three steps back.

I want to wave a magic wand and make everyone's problems disappear but this jsut isn't going to happen overnight.

It all takes time and slow progress.

Just like my Level 1 training.  Slowly but surely I am making progress.

I just have to keep making little steps to obtain the goal which is obtain my Level 1 qualification.  After that I hope to undertake a lifeguarding course in April.

I am making slow progress with my studying but will get there in the end.

My ASA Teachers Toolkit arrived today this will certainly help with the homework.

Yesterday at the pool/classroom was a good day.  I wasn't the only one struggling and finding some of the questions ambigious so felt much better than I had during the last couple of weeks.

I love swimming and the sport seems to love me.  I have no pain when in the water from my joints and I can really relax. 

This is the feeling I want to give to the participants of Swimming After Surgery (SAS) and I hope I can continue to do so.

Best wishes


Monday, 28 February 2011

What a Day

I couldn't believe this morning.  Woke up to discover the boiler had gone wrong.

So decided to telephone the bank to make an appointment for tomorrow to set up an account for Swimming After Surgery (SAS) simple you would think.  No!!  There are no direct numbers now to the branches and calls go through a national call centre.  I got through at 9.20 am and was advised I would get a call back wtihin a couple of hours.  This didn't happen and after 7 telephone calls I eventually got an appointment for tomorrow.  The lady who made it said "Why didn't you contact the branch directly?"  So I politely told her why this had not happened. 

Once the account is set up I can then finish off funding application.  This is to be done online before Sunday.

I am making slow progress with my Level 1 homework and hope to complete this before Sunday when I attend the pool again for training.

I am now enrolled on a Lifeguard course commencing 4th April.  Can't believe where my swimming journey is taking me.  I had no idea I would be doing what I am when I first started training as a poolside helper.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Wonderful Week

What a week I have had. 

It has been hectic approving articles for various publications and a live radio interview at the beginning of the week.

Now I am busy applying for funding for Swimming After Surgery (SAS) to keep it going after the end of March.  Fingers crossed I hope to achieve this goal.

I have had several sleepless nights which can be testified by the times my emails have been sent out.  One person said "Do you ever sleep, as I have noticed the time that you send your emails through?".  I replied "I do things constructive when I can't sleep and then return to bed in the hope I can sleep better".

It is a challenge at the moment to keep things going and I certainly hope that I can keep Swimming After Surgery (SAS) afloat. 

Have a good weekend everyone.

Best wishes

Thursday, 17 February 2011


Last night was another session of Swimming After Surgery. 

Little did I know how much benefit this project would have.  One lady had almost become a recluse with a fear of going out since her surgery.  Sewing the seed of the idea of the project to her a couple of weeks ago had meant she chose to come along earlier rather than later.

I was so pleased to see the improvement within an hour.  I tied a woggle into a knot with two ends outside of the knot and held each in my hands.  Off I set playing at being a motorbike.  I passed her the tied woggle and off she set walking across the pool holding it. 

To make her laugh I grabbed another woggle stuck it between my legs and swam this is referred to as being a seahorse.

Because I was playing around and not caring how I looked this broke the ice and things really got moving.

I then asked the coach if she could teach me diving.  The coach was more than willing to help with this.  Unfortunately when I was attempting the dive fear took over but instead of giving up.  I decided I would attempt jumping in.  This worked.

I am not going to give up on trying to dive I will just try harder next time but not to such an extent that I get anxious about it. 

I know I can surface dive and last night I managed to dive right to the bottom of the deep end.

This journey is certainly encouraging and is uplifting. 

Best wishes


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Swimming After Surgery

Swimming After Surgery has certainly kept me busy this week.  Promoting it on Monday night with Bosum Buddies a breast cancer support group was a good experience.

Tonight I have been to the Swimming After Surgery session.  This was really good for me as I have been working on my own fears in the water.

Now I can do handstands, surface dives (didn't even realise I was able to do those), swim underwater and through hoops.

I do have a bad habit of my behind being stuck up in the air so the coach suggested I try sitting on the bottom of the pool.  If I had been asked to do this a couple of weeks ago I wouldn't have even attempted it.

I am learning various things not only with my own swimming but how to put what I am learning on my Level 1 course into practise.

I love swimming and I love the journey it is taking me on.  It isn't all easy but I am learning a lot.

Best wishes

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Feeling Guilty

Hi Everyone,

I did say when I first started this blog that my life is a roller coaster well nothing much has changed in that aspect.

Having started the Level 1 course I have to stick at it no matter what.  It is my mother-in-law's 80th birthday celebrations this weekend and the family have come to visit her.  I went yesterday but cannot be there today as I am training.

My husband will spend the day with her today as well as the rest of the family.

Last night I received a telephone call from my nephew to say my great nephew is seriously ill in hospital.  I know they need support but I am committed to the course especially as the swimming club have paid for it.

On top of that I have a hospital appointment tomorrow morning for myself and another thing I cannot cancel.  I haven't told my nephew as he has a lot of his plate already.

I am in the midst of trying to save Swimming After Surgery (SAS) and obtain funding to keep it going.  This means visiting people with leaflets and letting them know the benefits of swimming after surgery.  I have a meeting tomorrow night to promote this too.

Tuesday is the Haematology Support Group which we have been keeping ticking over to ensure that anyone who needs the group can still access it.

As you can see I am busy but feel torn in several pieces as I feel I should be with my nephew but can't due to the course.  If I can get cover for other things I will get there as soon as possible.  If not, I will certainly be there on Wednesday. 

Life is full of challenges and this is my biggest one. 

Last night I was so distraught my neighbour came in and calmed me down.  I managed to get some sleep I just hope I can do today justice and keep my mind on the training.

Best wishes to everyone.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Finally Level 1 Training has begun

Yesterday was the start of 5 Sundays (not consecutive) to start training as a level 1 coach in aquatics.

I was worried about what I was going to do about getting between the buildings as the joining instructions had said we would commence in one building and then go over to another. EEK!!

I needn't have worried too much but was glad I had thought every option through too.

I arrived early at Shrewsbury School and waited the arrival of the course tutor (luckily I already had been taught by her previously when I did my Poolside Helpers Certificate). When the tutor arrived she informed me she had been worrying about logistics between buildings with the wheelchair as it was too far for me to attempt to walk it.

I was determined to give things a go and said I would take the wheelchair and carry my bags on my lap and manage to push myself.

The rest of the candidates arrived and we settled into the classroom. Nothing like being "back at school" the feeling of anticipation but this time as adults we wanted to be there not "had to be there".

I wasn't sure how many times we would be entering the pool so had taken 2 lots of clothes to change into as well as two swimming costumes. It is better to be prepared than unprepared.

The tutor explained we would be teaching young children in the pool and that she had arranged for volunteers to come along. I am not sure who was more scared "the candidates" or the children.

The age for swimming lessons is 5 years and upwards. The reason for this is at four years old a child has just started school and needs to adjust to longer days of education so if they attend swimming lessons when they are tired they won't learn anything or enjoy it.

The main theme of the level 1 course is FUN in all of the elements to be taught. Positive feedback must be given at all times especially in the 5 year old group. E.g. a child of 5 has only been in the water twice. A teacher cannot say "you aren't doing that right". The pupil wouldn't come back. I noticed a child not stretching out there arms long enough so I said "longer stretch make the stretch very long, see if you can do that".

It is hard to get the balance right and what works for one person may not work for another.

I have experience of helping with disabled children in a pool environment and this has certainly assisted me in understanding their needs.

We were all amazed at one little girl who was having her first swimming lessons yesterday. By the end of the session with different candidates she managed to swim without armbands.

This made us all very pleased that the first session had gone well. We just have to build on what we have learnt and how the best way is to keep the FUN going not only for the pupils in the water but also for ourselves.

Sometimes we get too bogged down in what we have to learn that we don't make it fun or easy to remember. It is just something we have to do and we get it done as fast as we can without really remembering what we have learnt.

The tutor obviously did a good job last year as I can remember most if not all of what she told us during the poolside helpers course.

I suppose being passionate about a particular subject does have an advantage in learning it but can we make ourselves passionate about other things in life too that we don't really like doing?

The group has got on well. I have made new friends. A lot of them helped me yesterday when they saw me struggling. I try and be independent but I know I will have to accept a lot of help to make the days easier for everyone.

One of the girls who pushed my wheelchair up the hill when it was a bit difficult for me said "I didn't do much". It meant a lot to me that she offered and I hadn't had to ask for the help.

I returned the favour by offering her a lift to the station so she could catch the train back to Hereford.

The previous course I had been booked on in January had been cancelled due to lack of numbers. This course is at full capacity.

I hope one day to be achieve my dream of becoming a swimming coach for the disabled I have started the journey and who knows where it will end or what I will achieve.

I will keep you posted as to progress.

As for examination there isn't one this time it is based on NVQ learning so I have a folder ("log book") to complete and two questionnaires to go through. A lot of work to do but hopefully I can make it FUN.

Best wishes to everyone.

Thursday, 27 January 2011


For a long time now I have been trying to regain my confidence in putting my face under water. I mentioned this to the lifeguard/coach who takes Swimming After Surgery last week.

Last night she set up a couple of hoops in the bottom of the pool. We were advised we could lift these up and get each of us to swim through the hoops. I decided to do it the hard way.

I plucked up the courage bounced up and down a couple of times, held my breath and dived down through the hoop. It is quite disorientating as the hoops look distorted from the top of the pool and appear to move.

On my first attempt I reached the hoop and got in it and stood up. I then realised my head had only just gone through the hoop so as I stood up the hoop was around me.

The coach informed me that I had kicked too hard and I just needed to glide through the hoop.

On my next attempt I didn't kick enough.

By the end of the session I had managed to dive down and swim through one of the hoops.

Another challenge we had was to get an object from the bottom of the pool.

Normally when I go swimming I take with me my goggles, and nose clip. I had taken both but forgot to take the nose clip with me to the pool.

I attempted the dive to get the object from the bottom of the pool. One of my colleagues was struggling so I lent my goggles to her. She was amazed at the difference they make as she was then able to open her eyes underwater.

My colleague's backstroke is improving and my underwater swimming is too.

It just shows with the right encouragement things we think can't be achieved can be.

This has given me more confidence in time for the weekend when I finally start the long journey to become a swimming coach.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

At last

At long last I have now got confirmation of my level 1 Aquatics coaching course. This starts on 30th January and will then be held for two sundays in February and two other sundays in March.

I just hope I can do the course justice and get the most out of it. Nervous and anxious about it all but one thing is I have had contact with the tutor before and I can't wait to work with her again.

It is going to be an interesting course and a challenge for me. The first step on a long ladder.

One thing for sure is I love a challenge and I love swimming so I should enjoy it.