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Swimming Lesson Programme FAQs

This page aims to answer some of you frequently asked questions as regards our swimming lesson programme. If you cannot find the information you are after, or would like further information please contact the centre at which the swimming lessons are booked or you would like to take lessons at.

At what age can my child start swimming lessons?

Wrexham County Borough offers swimming lessons for children aged from 4 months.

  • 4 months – 4 years
    For toddlers and babies aged 4 months to 4 years adult and child classes are run as an introduction to the water, water confidence and basic movement. The parent/guardian takes this class with the child.
  • 3–4 years
    Depending on swimming pool there are pre national plan lessons available and are based around basic movement in the water and water confidence. Parents maybe asked to go in the water.
  • 5 years plus
    Waves 1–7 (non-swimmers through to advanced swimmer). Lessons following the  welsh Aquatics Pathway. Swimmers who complete stages 7 can progress to advanced award programmes.

What is the Welsh Aquatics Pathway?

Swim Wales are the national governing body for swimming in Wales and with the support of swimming teacher, tutors, consultants, local authorities and private swimming providers have devised a Welsh Pathway which is currently being implemented across Wales. The framework takes swimmers from non swimmers at wave 1 to advanced swimmers by Wave 7/8 As well as learning to swim children have an opportunity to develop their FUNdamental movement skills, improve their water confidence, become safe around water, take part in other aquatic activities and learn how to help in an emergency. Swim Wales has the aim that every child in Wales is able to swim by age 11 years and this plan assists swimmers towards this goal.

For more information about the Welsh aquatics Pathway please see Question 3 below.

Where can I find more information on swimming and resources that will help me understand the Welsh Aquatics Pathway?

Check the swimming notice boards at the centre at which your child has lessons or speak to one of the swimming teachers. For further information and resources please have a look on the Swim Wales website www.swimwales.org . If your child is enrolled within our lesson programme then you can also access further information from the Aqua passport website which includes video clips of each skill at every Wave being performed. Visit www.aquapassport.com

What Qualifications do the swimming teachers have?

All swimming teachers employed by Wrexham County Borough Council hold as a minimum an ASA Swimming Teaching / Teaching Aquatics Qualification for either Level 1 or 2 (or higher).

Level 2 teachers can teach a class of up to 20 swimmers (depending on ability see Question 9) from non-swimmer to pre-competition (Waves 1–7). Some teachers may hold extra swimming qualifications on top of their Level 2 which will enable them to teach other activities such as Adult and Child or water polo.

Level 1 teachers assist a Level 2 (or higher) teacher in the delivery of a lesson. This maybe going in the water and providing extra support or teaching a small a group of swimmers under the supervision of a Level 2 teacher.

During all swimming lessons there are lifeguards present to ensure the safety of the swimmers, in some cases swimming teachers act as both the lifeguard and the teacher.

All teachers and lifeguards working for the council are CRB checked.

What do I need to bring for my swimming lesson?

You will need to bring your swimming kit, towel and money for the locker (varies according to site). Goggles are optional, but will not be provided. We recommend children starting swimming lessons do not bring goggles unless for medical reasons. They often provide a distraction during the lesson and for water safety reasons children should learn to be confident and competent in the water without goggles on. Swimmers at higher stages may bring goggles to use. When you first enroll your child within our lesson programme they will be a given a swimming hat. This swimming hat is colour coded so all children in that Wave wear the same colour. You will need to bring the swimming hat with you to every lesson as well.

What if I don’t want to try one of the skills my teacher is asking me to attempt?

Teachers will not force you to attempt anything you do not want to do, however will encourage you to try. All skills taught to swimmers during lessons are those from the syllabus from the Welsh Aquatic Pathway and form skills and techniques necessary for development. If it is a child who won’t try the technique parents maybe advised to bring the child swimming themselves or practice at home to help them improve. They can also view the skills being performed through the Aqua Passport website.

My child has had swimming lessons before but I am unsure what Wave to book them in for, what should I do?

If the child has completed any of the Swim Wales Waves before then staff on reception will be able to book them straight into the appropriate class. If they have not been swimming for a long period of time (more than 3 months), or have not completed any Swim Wales Waves then it maybe necessary to have a quick swimming assessment with one of our staff. These swimming assessments are free and should only take about 10 minutes. The child will be asked to demonstrate a number of skills and from there a correct stage can be determined. Assessments are available at all sites, please speak to a member of staff about having your child assessed.

I watched my child’s last lesson and they were playing lots of games, how is this benefiting their swimming?

Research by the Amateur Swimming Association, Swim Wales and education advisors has shown that children learn best through games and FUN and therefore children in the FUNdamental stages of development (where skills are first learnt and acquired such as catching, running, throwing, jumping, swimming) are taught in this manner. When playing games children will be building on their water confidence, increasing their skills base, being active in the water, practicing their strokes (or one particular stroke) and most importantly enjoying themselves. Games are predominantly used with children in the lower Waves however children in the higher Waves may also be involved with games and activities to help them develop their confidence and skills too.

How many children are in each class?

Wrexham Council follows strict guidelines as laid down by the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) in relation to teacher to pupil ratios. These are the ratios the ASA stipulate:

  • Adult/Child lesson 1:12 (that is 12 pairs, adult and baby to teacher)
  • Non-swimmers / beginners (Waves 1–3) 1:12
  • Improvers – Advanced (Wave 4 plus) 1:20
  • Mixed ability groups (school swimming lessons) 1:20
  • Competitive swimmers 1:30

Wrexham County Borough has up to 12 children in each class from Waves 1-7. In certain circumstances it maybe possible to have more than 12 swimmers in a class, for example swimmers in the higher Waves or where a Level 1 teacher is present.

My child has been stuck on a particular Wave now for three lesson blocks,  is there anything I can do to help their development?

All children progress at different speeds and your child will achieve this Wave in their own time. To help their development try to take them swimming in between lessons so they can practice their skills (remember children enrolled within our lesson programme can take advantage of one free swim per week). Utilise the Aqua Passport website and identify the skills your child needs to develop and watch the video clips of the skill being performed so you can see what they are aiming towards. Try and attend parent/swimmer feedback sessions so you can talk to your child’s teacher who maybe able to describe specific practices which can help them develop quicker.

To keep your child motivated and involved with their swimming lesson teachers may use a variety of techniques to teach different skills which may include playing games. As noted in Question 5 children learn best through games and fun.

How do I know when my child is ready to move into the next Wave?

You will be able to track your child’s progress week by week using the Aqua Passport website and so you will be able to see once your child has achieved all criteria at a particular Wave. At this point if it is possible then WCBC will attempt to accommodate your child within the appropriate class. If this is not possible then your child will remain where they are until the end of the twelve week lesson block and will then be moved. If this happens then your child’s class teacher will ensure that they work on skills appropriate to their new Wave.

At the end of the twelve week lesson block every swimmer will receive a letter explaining which Wave they will be in for the next Lesson Block. The letter will also tell you when their next lesson will be. For example, “your child has passed Stage 4 and will be moving to Wave 5 on a Monday at 5pm starting Monday 4th March.” If you are happy with the class your child has been booked in to, then you don’t need to do anything. We will see you on the day and time specified on the letter. If the time allocated for your child’s class is not suitable or you wish to change this, you will need to go to reception with the letter and we can re-allocate you a different lesson at a more convenient time.

Once our current direct debit customers have been allocated a place on the lessons any spare places will be opened up to the general public. For further information on the re-enrolment process please see the swimming lesson notice board or speak to reception staff.
There is no set time on when children will move up a stage this is down to the individual swimmer. Roughly it will take around 3-4 years to progress from Wave 1 to Wave 7.

Where a swimmer cannot achieve a skill for some reason, for example a physical impairment, the teacher will take this into account when assessing their ability to meet each of the outcomes for the Wave.

My child has just completed Wave 7, what can they do now?

On completing Wave 7 swimmers have the choice of a number of different activities (not all are available at every site, please ask for more information).

  • Wave 8 – a mixed aquatic sports session with swimmers working towards various outcomes including, personal survival, water polo, synchronised swimming and competitive swimming
  • Aquatic Skills 1-5 Water Polo – run via Wrexham aquatics Water Polo Club, a basic introduction to the rules and skills of the game. More information on Swimming Clubs.
  • Aquatic Skills 1-5 Synchronised Swimming – a basic introduction to this highly technical sport which is similar to dance or gymnastics in water.
  • Aquatic Skills 1-5 Swimming – run via Wrexham Swimming Club and Chirk Dragons Swimming Club, this is an entry level into the club, continue to develop stroke technique, stamina and learn new skills. More information on Swimming Clubs.
  • Rookie Lifeguard – basic lifesaving and personal survival skills
  • Junior Fitswim – for those swimmers who do not want to attend a swimming club, continue to work on stroke technique and stamina and learn new skills.

I am aged 46 and would really like to learn to swim, when I was younger I was pushed into the deep end on my first lesson and never went back. I’m very apprehensive about returning to the pool, what will the lesson be like?

WCBC offers adults only swimming lessons (ladies only, 50+ and 60+ lesson are also available in some facilities) for all abilities. These lessons are designed to be flexible to suit the individual and you may discover everybody in the class is working on something different. Further information on adults only swimming.

On your first lesson please take some time to chat to the instructor before you get in the water and explain about what you would like to achieve from the lessons and also your fears. The lesson will take place in water within your depth and you will be encouraged to try suitable activities as directed by your teacher, you will not be forced to try any activity. Your first lesson maybe as simple as walking around the pool, feeling comfortable in the water, meeting the others in your class and learning how to put your feet down on the pool floor when you are using equipment (so that you can stand up whenever you want to). Lessons will be taken at your own pace and you may even find that there is another teacher in the water to provide extra support and encouragement.

Why do the swimming lessons run for 48 weeks?

From September 2012 Wrexham County Borough Council will be running swimming lessons 48 weeks of the year, which will be divided into 4 lesson blocks, made up of 12 weeks each. There will be no swimming lessons for 2 weeks at Christmas and no swimming lessons for 2 weeks at Easter. All swimmers enrolled onto the lesson programme will be given a swimming lesson planner which will indicate the 4x12 week blocks and the 4 weeks lessons are not running.

The reason behind this is to follow research by the Amateur Swimming Association which shows that swimmers who attend term time lessons only do not progress as quickly as those who attend lessons year round. Indeed it has even been proven that swimmers who do not attend lessons during the school holidays will actually have to attend, on average, more lessons than they would have attended if there hadn’t been a break in the programme.

The effect of this is more time spent at each Wave which will ultimately cost you more money. In light of this research WCBC will be ensuring all swimmers have the opportunity to attend swimming lessons year round with the aim of reinforcing and enhancing learning.
The benefits of moving to the 48 week programme are;

  • Overall the swimmers on the learn to swim scheme should learn to swim within a shorter period
  • Consistency will enhance the level of learning
  • Regular weekly exercise
  • No confusion as to whether lessons are running or not

If you have any further questions about these lessons then please contact the swimming pool.