Following all the advice from Swim England and central Government we reintroduced children's swimming lessons during September at Summerfields, Rye and Bexhill. Here's what some of the parents and children had to say about their experience.
I was excited about starting swimming lessons againJack Wareham Age 6 years
Jack was booked onto swimming lessons before lockdown. His direct debit was suspended by Freedom Leisure when we closed ready to be reactivated once we began lessons again. That call came at the end of August and Jack returned to exactly the same swimming slot as he left on.
His mum Emma was curious to see how swimming lessons would be managed in the 'new normal' while Jack was just excited to get back to swimming. Their first lesson back proved a success with everyone following the directional signs through the one way system with the smaller class sizes providing more of a focus for the child. Emma also felt the lack of teacher in the water (due to social distancing) was working in a positive way as the kids were having to do more for themselves which was aiding in their progression.
It's important to find a new normality so kids can enjoy life again, but to stay safe at the same timeEmma Wareham - mother
The first lesson back is bound to be a little confusing as you get used to the whistle to inform parents that lessons are finishing and making sure the viewing gallery is vacated so it can be cleaned before the next cohort of parents go up to watch their children, but there are staff on hand and plenty of other parents around to ask. Emma told us that parents thinking about returning to swimming lessons should 'just do it, the kids love it, it's been a great experience for us. The teacher is progressing Jack's swimming well even with the adaption of not being in the pool'.
Paityn screamed with excitement when we walked through the doorsKayley Madigan- mother
Kayley Madigan decided it was time to return to pre-school drop in lessons when she heard from a friend and saw on social media they were back on. Her daughter Paityn had attended some Monday morning classes pre lockdown and Kayley was keen for her daughter to get back into swimming so she would be confident in the water for future holidays.
Understandably, Kayley was very nervous about coming back into the centre with her daughter and to see how lessons would run on their return, but was reassured by staff who directed her and explained the new procedures. Entry to the changing rooms is only permitted 10 minutes prior to the lesson to help with social distancing but you can wait in the seating area until it's time to go through.
Kayley reported back that Paityn's first lesson was perfect as always with her brilliant instructor Tracey who has so much patience, however Paityn misses Tracey dunking her (due to social distancing) and jumping in from the side (although there is no evidence the virus spreads via water, any spashing and aerosol droplets are minimised with this new ruling).
Kayley had this to say about any parent thinking about returning their child to lessons but is apprehensive. 'Do it! It's so rewarding to see your child enjoying themselves and gaining confidence with swimming'
I would encourage parents to bring their children back, I was slightly nervous but the Leisure Centre have taken fantastic steps to make it safe for all children and parents visiting.Hannah Stanbridge Namvar
Hannah's son Coby was enrolled on to swimming lessons before lockdown and was contacted by Bexhill's swim school coordinator Tracey about returning in September. The session attended before was no longer available but Tracey worked with Hannah to find another suitable slot and Coby was booked back in.
Coby had really missed swimming so was looking forward to returning and although nervous, Hannah said of the return 'As soon as we arrived we were greeted by a gentlemen and briefed and directed to where we needed to go and then again as we came into the pool area'
Hannah had been concerned about what a break from swimming lessons would do for Coby's confidence and his health and fitness so was glad when she was contacted about starting up again and Coby is as pleased as punch to be back in his weekly routine. Although he has had different teachers while we work on bringing all the old staff back, they have been 'good and encouraging', getting Coby back to a good level of fitness and skill.
Furthermore Hannah wanted Tracey acknowledged for always listening to parents and trying to accomodate their needs and for the teachers making lessons fun for the children.
Lissia and Edward Carson aged 9 and 6 years respectively have been swimming with Freedom Leisure since they were both 6 months old, clearly demonstrating how important a life skill they believe it to be. Lockdown was hard on both the children who were used to the routine and looked forward to their lessons, however the family received email updates from the centre so knew swimming lessons were looking to start up again for them in September. The all important phone call came near the end of August and both were once again enrolled with their swimming teacher Sophie who they both love.
The children were both nervous and excited about going back and had questions 'would it be the same?' 'will we still enjoy it?' Their mum Tammy said'We had no need to worry. It didn't feel any different other than the groups are smaller. We arrive ready to go and each time we have an allocated changing room so we know where to go and keep our distance from others. We feel safe and supported and the children love being back in the pool. I would strongly recommend anyone worrying to not as it's safe and the centre staff will talk you through the new routine'
I wanted both my children to learn to swim so they felt confident in water and I see swimming as a life skill, which is totally needed when living by the sea. It's also a great form of exercise.Tammy Beaney - mother
I have been so impressed with how Freedom Leisure have handled the current situation. I was nervous about my children restarting their swimming lessons, but from the first day back I felt comfortable, it's well organised, efficient and clean. the communication from the staff has been great and all procedures put in place have made us feel safe and confident about us continuing swimming lessonsJo Jo
I got in with my son as he's 3, clear instructions, good fun, my son thoroughly enjoyed it. Easy rules to follow.A Sharpe - parent to George & Olivia
Tracey (swim school coordinator) is always accommodating and happy to help.A Sharpe - parent to George & Olivia