The Institute of Swimming launches first-of-kind Inclusive Recruitment Academy

The Institute of Swimming has launched an Inclusive Recruitment Academy to help disabled people become swimming teachers.

The Academy, which is being fully-funded by Swim England and UK Sport, is a unique programme offering a tailored approach to training. It will form part of the lasting social impact of the Allianz Para Swimming World Championship in Manchester.

The Institute of Swimming’s experienced tutors will work closely with trainees to provide dedicated support and, where required, reasonable adjustments and modifications will be made to ensure everyone has the opportunity to excel in their training. The Institute of Swimming welcomes applications from those with physical impairments and/or neurodiversity and long term health conditions.

Once selected, trainees on the Institute of Swimming Inclusive Recruitment Academy will receive:
· Practical volunteer placement
· A mentor to support the placement
· SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant Qualification
· SEQ Level 2 Swimming Teacher Qualification (where appropriate)
· Institute of Swimming Membership, which includes insurance and over £100 worth of free e-learning

Following the successful completion of the training programme there will be the opportunity for paid employment at the Matt Walker Swim Programme and at Bambers Inclusive Swimming schools in Manchester.

Martin Lees, Para-Swimming Development Manager at Swim England says: “We are committed to breaking down barriers and empowering disabled people and those with long term health conditions to become qualified swimming teachers. We believe everyone should have equal opportunities to excel and make a difference in the world of aquatics. We recognise the value of lived experience disabled teachers can bring to the poolside.

“Being disabled does not stop someone from learning to swim, and it does not stop someone from teaching swimming. There are no educational requirements for applying, nor do you have to be an ‘elite’ swimmer. We hope the Inclusive Recruitment Academy will find passionate and enthusiastic people who wish to embrace a career as a swimming teacher. If the programme is successful, we plan to work with the Institute of Swimming to roll the model out to other locations in England.”

Matt Walker, MBE, who has participated in four Paralympic Games, winning eleven medals in swimming, gained his teaching qualifications in the late 1990’s as a teenager so he could help teach at his old swimming club. Since retiring from competitive swimming he has become a head coach, supporting young people to learn to swim and to compete on a national and international stage.

Matt says: “I learnt to swim as a child, and although I initially hated it, I kept going due to the encouragement of a wonderful swimming teacher. Teaching has the ability to transform someone’s life. I was born with cerebral palsy, however, that does not impact my ability to teach, motivate and encourage others.

“Although my career has been as an elite swimmer, that doesn’t mean possible trainees need to have the same background and experience. Teaching swimming is an incredibly rewarding job, and the key to being a good swimming teacher is the ability to bring smiles and laughter to every lesson.

“I am very supportive of the Institute of Swimming’s Inclusive Recruitment Academy, and welcome more disabled people into the sector. I am looking forward to working alongside some of the new recruits at my Matt Walker Swim Programme. The Inclusive Recruitment Academy is open to all.”

Ellie Bamber is Director of Bamber Swim School and an occupational therapist, as well as having her SEQ Level 1 and Level 2 Swimming Teaching Qualifications. Ellie set up the Bamber Swim School to offer inclusive swimming lessons for disabled children and adults.

Ellie says: “We wanted to create a specialist space for disabled people to learn to swim, as it’s such a wonderful form of exercise for everyone. Most of our swimming teachers have an impairment, be that physical or neurodiverse. They make excellent swimming teachers because they’ve always had to be ‘out of the box, thinkers.’ They have always had to make modifications in their everyday life and are well equipped to make adaptions for disabled people wanting to learn to swim. Our school actively encourages a pathway into competitive swimming and an aquatics career. Many of our young swimmers ask us if they can be swimming teachers, and we always say yes!”

Ellie, who herself has mobility issues, continues: “I struggle to exercise or bear weight for a long period of time, but in the water I feel weightless and can be upright for a long time. The water allows me to have more physical freedom, and that’s how I teach my lessons.

“We are looking forward to more disabled people considering swimming teaching as a career – it’s very rewarding, with flexible hours.”

The Institute of Swimming and Swim England are looking to attract new people into the sector who may not have considered teaching swimming as a career opportunity.

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