Why Swim England courses are 'a fantastic learning environment'

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The Head of  Swim England Qualifications Simon Stevens looks back on “five of his best days in the job” – completing his Level 1 qualification

It was 2011 when our very own Simon Stevens decided the best way to fully understand Swim England’s qualifications was to do one himself. Now head of qualifications at the NGB for swimming, Simon reflects on his Level 1 experience and why the course was so engaging…

Why did you choose to do a Level 1 course?

“I wanted to get a better understanding of our qualifications. I’ve haven’t got a swimming background, so the idea was to go on the course to get an understanding of what it entails and have the opportunity in the future to assist lessons if I wanted to.

“It was important to understand the qualification we offer and see if there were any obvious issues from a novices’ point of view. From my experience, it’s a high quality and extremely sound qualification and does provide the opportunity to go off, assist lessons and start on that journey.”

Did any aspects of the course surprise you?

“I thought I was a decent swimmer but I realised on the course I was what they call ‘a head out of the water breaststroker’. So I learnt to breaststroke properly for the first time.

“It was a five-day course and when I finished it I began swimming regularly with a colleague at Swim England. Since then breaststroke has become my stroke of choice – and yes, I now put my head under the water.”

How challenging was the qualification?

“Coming from a novice’s point of view, the course stretched me but it wasn’t an uncomfortable stretch. The tutor, Claire Woolaston, was absolutely brilliant – a really fun and engaging person. We did a heap of practical sessions and that kind of experience in the water can only make you a better swimming assistant or teacher.”

Who else was on your course?

“You have the support network of your peers but also your tutor. The course I went on had quite a range of learners in terms of their swimming experience, but everyone intermingled and worked together to gain that experience and bounce ideas around.”

Would you recommend the course to others?

“Yes! It was five of the best days I’ve had in this job! Throughout the whole course it was jovial but serious and there was continuous learning. There were challenging parts, as there should be, but it was a fantastic learning environment and I’d do it again tomorrow.”