BaySwim, a local swim school that operates from Baywave and Greerton Aquatic & Leisure Centre, has recently been awarded the 2020 Swim School Innovation Award (1001-2000 students) by NZSCTA for their sensory swim lessons.
The New Zealand Swim Coaches and Teachers Association (NZSCTA) recognises contributions and achievements in the swimming industry with their annual awards. There are a range of teaching and coaching awards acknowledging individuals and swim schools.
“Not every swimmer can cope with the noise and distraction of lessons in a public pool” says BaySwim manager Claire Edmonds, “so we introduced Friday Sensory Swim Lessons.” The lessons run outside of mainstream hours to ensure a quieter environment. While the lessons run the lights are dimmed, there are signs in place to reduce noise, there is no music playing and the teaching resources are kept simple and calming.
BaySwim teachers who take sensory swim lessons take part in additional training to be able to conduct the lessons and communicate to children clearly what is happening now, next and later in the lesson to reduce anxiety. And while the environment might be different to a normal lesson, the teaching goals are the same. The teachers aim to increase water safety and confidence (teaching children how to float, breath under water and become familiar with the swim lesson structure), as well as improving swimming skills.
“We love the opportunity to work with families who would otherwise give up swimming lessons. We currently have fourteen families who take part and have room for more if there are others who think this would suit their children.” says Edmonds.
Father of Zach Stuart, a 12-year-old boy who takes part in Friday Sensory Swim Lessons, has seen an improvement in his sons swimming ability since moving to this type of lesson style. “[Zach’s] now starting to become a good swimmer, we saw little improvement in normal lessons, but these are better. With the individual attention and lack of distractions, yeah it’s been great.”
BaySwim is operated by Bay Venues Limited who manages 24 venues across Tauranga and several programmes within these facilities to provide enrichment to the community.