National Learn to Swim Day was on 20th May and is a day dedicated to raise awareness of the importance of teaching people, especially children, to swim. With Summer right around the corner, learning this invaluable skill is even more essential for safety.
And it's not just the kids... did you know that one in five adults in England can’t swim either, but it’s never too late to learn. We caught up with one of our lifeguards Alex Goff who told us all about swimming at Palms as well as his own swimming experiences, and we've also put together some ideas on how to get into swimming…
Alex, can you tell us about your role at Palms Health and Fitness Club?
I have been a lifeguard at Palms for around a year. I was working locally as a lifeguard before Potters and am now fully qualified. When doing lifeguard duty, we will sit on the lifeguard chair and watch the pools, before rotating every 30 minutes. Every night we clean and brush the pool area, and polish the tiles twice a week. Almost every member of the Palms team is lifeguard trained, and we have around six casuals and six full-time members of the team.
Why did you decide to become a lifeguard?
I’ve always been really into my health and fitness, and swam competitively for Great Yarmouth for 11 years. I used to do swimming training around seven times a week, but I lost the passion for it. Now that I’m not competing, I do enjoy swimming again.
When did you start swimming?
From an early age. I think it was when I was a baby once I’d had my injections. I’ve been swimming all my life and I can swim the length of the longest pool at Palms in seven seconds, beating our other lifeguards!
Can people swim at Potters?
Yes, all our guests and members of Palms have access to our two swimming pools. We have a main pool and a slightly smaller pool, and it’s lovely in the Summer as we open the outdoor section of our main pool, so people can swim through the gate and be in the sun. Of course, once the sun comes out it gets really busy, but Summer has so much atmosphere and a real buzz. We supply woggles and floats for people to use too.
What is your top tip for budding swimmers?
Just enjoy it. Don’t look at swimming competitively when you first start and instead make sure you just enjoy it, and get kids used to water at an early age.
What is your favourite swimming stroke?
The butterfly, which involves you bringing both arms over your head at the same time and pushing them into the water to propel yourself, with a dolphin-style kick. It’s all about creating a rhythm between the underwater and above water parts of the stroke. Of course, there’s also the breaststroke, backstroke, front crawl and sidestroke.
What do you do when you’re not working?
I enjoy the gym, and am also studying law, politics and psychology at East Norfolk College.
Here are some tips for getting kids interested in swimming, while also keeping them safe…
- Enrol your kids in swimming lessons
- Visit the pool as a family. Check your local pool for family swimming sessions as these often include larger inflatables and means that the kids can enjoy learning to swim, without the worry of disturbing more serious swimmers
- Don’t let then swim alone when they are young and not yet confident of the water, and ensure that they are supervised at all times
- Wear the proper attire - make sure they are in a proper swimsuit and have swimming aids, like armbands and floats if needed
- Head outside - Look out for your local outdoor pool/Lido when the weather is nice, or be brave and dip your toes in the sea at your nearest beach
- Basic safety - children should be made aware of safety at the pool, such as no running on the edge of the pool, no diving and being aware of others in the pool
- Hot tubs should only be used by older children as young children can overheat
- Make a game out of it - have them swim a short distance to the ladder, consider diving sticks to pick-up from the bottom of the pool and just take baby steps with them
- Make them feel safe - reassure them that you are there and hold on to them until they feel ok on their own
- A simple game of tag is always fun and encourages children to move through the water
- If all else fails and you can’t get to a pool, just have a splash in the bath!