Career change adds up for swimming teacher Garry

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After 15 years producing accounts for a distribution company, Garry Hume decided it was time for a change in career.

The 45-year-old retains a love of swimming from his younger years and decided teaching swimming was the right road ahead for him.

“When I was young I used to be part of a swimming club and competed to quite a high level before giving up in my teens,” he said.

“That interest in swimming stayed with me though, and I used to swim regularly at one of the pools nearby. I saw the lifeguard’s courses being advertised and initially thought that would make a nice hobby before it dawned on me that it could also be a career.

“From there, I thought ‘why not give it a go?’ So I took the course, packed in my job and went from there.”

‘A very enjoyable challenge’

Garry began his journey in February 2018 with a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification course at Kirklees in West Yorkshire, and opted to build on that in July with the Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) qualification.

“I really enjoyed that course and it inspired me to take the Level 2 Swimming Teacher qualification soon after.

“The tutor, Stuart Blair, recommended that I gained some shadowing experience before I embarked on the next step because it’s a significant jump, and I’m pleased that I did that. I did around 30-40 hours of shadowing and then went for my Level 2.

“It was a challenge but a very enjoyable one. On my Level 2 course there was a lady called Becky assisting Stuart and they were both great. They worked well together, and as a team of students we all gelled as well.”

Already putting his qualifications to good use, Garry is teaching and assisting with three swim providers and lifeguarding around those shifts. He has also been able to expand his skill-set and enhance his CV with a range of Swim England Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses.

“It’s still very early days for me but I’m considering going down the trainer/assessor route in the future,” he said. “I also like open water swimming so I’m looking at coaching possibilities. I’ve only been qualified as a swimming teacher since December but there are so many options.”

‘It has changed my life’

So does Garry miss his old career at all?

“No! I don’t miss working to deadlines and the 9-5,” he said. “Now, I get paid for the hours I do, there’s less commuting and I can see that I’m actually making a difference.

“I didn’t feel like I could always see the bigger picture in my previous role but this is a completely different environment. Seeing a child understand what you’re explaining or making a breakthrough with something after weeks of working with them – I don’t think there’s anything better.

“The skill you’re teaching them could also save someone’s life. What’s more important than that?”

“I see swimming assistants posting on the Swimming Qualifications (Swim England) Facebook group asking whether they should make the step up and take their Level 2 qualification. I would say ‘just do it’. I did and it has changed my life.”