Looking for Swimming or Diving Lessons in the Harrogate District? Meet Harrogate’s swimming family: teaching all ages to swim and dive in the district.
Advertorial blog for Harrogate Borough Council Swim & Dive programme
One of the lovely things about a town like Harrogate is how often families are born, brought up & stay here. Lisa and Mike are siblings who started swimming lessons at the Hydro at the age of four and are now fully qualified swimming and diving teachers at the same pool!
Lisa reminisces about her swimming debut: “I remember my first lessons in the activity pool with my favourite swimming teacher, Stephen. It took me ages to get out of the beginning stage to the point where my mum believed I wouldn’t move up classes. When I finally moved out of the activity pool and into the main pool, I flew through the swimming stages and before I knew it I was doing hour- long swimming lessons!”
One of Lisa’s favourite experiences was being part of her primary school swimming team and entering the Tolly Richardson gala. In Year 4, Lisa and some of her friends were selected to trial for swimming squads at the gala. She didn’t get in the first time due to her breaststroke leg kick. With Lisa’s friends getting selected and leaving her out, this only made her even more determined to improve.
She says: “So I tried extra hard at my swimming lessons and the second time round I got into squads and turns out breast stroke was my strongest stroke. After that I spent the next seven years training and competing for Harrogate District Swimming Club.
“I have a box filled with swimming medals from over the years. I started diving lessons as well but I preferred swimming. When I got the opportunity to join either swimming squads or diving squads I picked swimming, unlike the rest of my family.”
Her brother, Mike, chose diving. He shares his swimming memories:
“After eventually progressing out of the first stage, I took to swimming and started working my way up through the levels quite fast. By the time I was seven, I began diving lessons, which I fell in love with.
“At the age of nine I had the tough decision of choosing between diving and swimming squads; eventually I chose the diving squads. I still swam in the gold group until I was 11, competing at several galas. I competed in diving competitions all across the country, which was the best part. I now dive with my dad in the masters group once a week to keep on top of my skills.”
Mike loves to dive because ‘you have to push yourself every session to be able to perform complex dives without fear.’ He adds: “I also made some great friends who I trained with for many years, we pushed each other to try new dives and be the best divers we could.”
Lisa loves swimming because she ‘enjoys competing but also loves the relaxation side of it.’
She says: “I still try to swim now to maintain my fitness. Although it was demanding at times, we had a lot of fun in squad training especially in team races and having a laugh during land training, making early morning swimming easier.”
The Learn to Swim programme, which Lisa now teaches, takes place at Harrogate Hydro, Starbeck Baths, Knaresborough Pool, Ripon Spa Baths and Nidderdale Pool. It follows the Swim England framework and all of the swimming teachers are passionate about developing confident and competent swimmers.
Both siblings became lifeguards at the Hydro before Lisa progressed to become a swimming teacher and Mike opted to be a diving coach. They both share a passion for teaching children important life skills and encouraging them on their swimming/diving journeys.
Mike and Lisa agreed: “Working with each other is great as we both grew up coming to the Hydro being taught by many of the great teachers who have now become our friends and colleagues.”
Lisa and Mike aren’t the only ones in their family who swim at the Hydro.
They say: “Our little sister, Rachel, is part of the diving squad at the Hydro and she trains three times a week. She enjoys diving because she can socialise with her friends and looks up to her diving dad and brother.
“Our dad has dived his entire life and still trains at the Hydro at the age of 48!”
Lisa takes baby sister, Emily, to general swim sessions to get her used to the water and she is already very confident. Sometimes she has ‘screaming tantrums because she doesn’t want to leave’.
The pair add: “Our mum is going to be joining Raintots with Emily once a week to build on her confidence. We feel it’s very important for young children to start coming to the swimming pool as it provides a foundation for when they start swimming lessons.”
Pre-school lessons, ‘Rain Drops’ and ‘Rain Tots’ for are children aged six months to three years old and include structured play, songs and an introduction to basic swimming with the parent/carer in the water to provide one-to-one support.
From four years old children begin their journey through the Learn to Swim stages. Each stage has a clear set of targets for children to meet so they can get to the next stage. The programme not only teaches a child to swim using the strokes, it also gives other skills, which when put together give children the ability to do a wide range of water based sports.
If your child feels inspired by Lisa and Mike’s story, why not try swimming lessons at your local pool?
The Learn to Swim and Dive programme gives children the enjoyment of swimming, a love of being in the water and the skills and motivation required to lead a healthy and active lifestyle from regular swimming through to their adult life. Everyone can enjoy swimming and diving, irrespective of any disability; the Hydro has Sunday evening ‘star scheme’ lessons and a ‘hot-shot’ squad.
If like Mike, your child is a fan of diving, they can follow in the footsteps of Olympic gold medallist Jack Laugher, who began his journey at the Hydro. The Learn to Dive programme is one of the most successful in the country.