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Lauren’s swimming coaching success

Photo: Lauren coaching swimming

Lauren (20), who is profoundly deaf, trained as a swimming coach through our award-winning deaf-friendly swimming project*. She tells us about her experience of taking the qualification and what she loves about teaching swimming.

“I was diagnosed with a moderate to severe hearing loss when I was five years old. However, my hearing slowly deteriorated as I grew up. Today, I’m classed as profoundly deaf.

“There’s no deafness in my family so it’s a mystery to me why I’m deaf but I don’t think negatively of it. It’s a part of who I am and I’ve accepted that since I was young.

“I wear hearing aids and communicate using speech and lip-reading. Throughout school I used a radio aid to help me hear the teachers better. I always watch TV and films with subtitles so I understand everything that’s being said. I have a small alarm that I put under my pillow that vibrates in the morning to wake me up in time for classes and work shifts.

“[Deafness] is a part of who I am and I’ve accepted that since I was young.”

“I went to mainstream primary and secondary schools. Neither offered any specialist support for deaf pupils so my Teacher of the Deaf visited every week to check if my radio aid was working and on my language skills.

"I found learning to swim as a deaf child extremely difficult. I had to do three years of swimming lessons and it was quite frustrating because it was extremely noisy and I didn’t feel very involved in the lessons.

"Eventually I was put with an instructor in one-to-one sessions which made a big difference for me. I was able to progress and understand what I needed to do and why.

"I was doing swimming in PE in high school and my teacher thought I had a very good technique. After the block finished, he recommended I join the school’s early morning competitive training sessions.

"I went along and thoroughly enjoyed training with a coach who focused on improving my technique. I also got to swim in my first gala and national schools’ swimming meet which I found really fun!

“I didn’t want more deaf children missing out on lessons like I did because swimming is very enjoyable and a life skill too.”

"Last year I saw a Facebook post about 16 deaf young people who completed a course in teaching swimming which inspired me. I thought I’d enjoy teaching swimming and I didn’t want more deaf children missing out on lessons like I did because swimming is very enjoyable and a life skill too.

“I also saw there was a bursary scheme for deaf coaches on the National Deaf Children’s Society website so I emailed the swimming development officer for more information. I was then sent an application form to complete about myself and my involvement in swimming.

"I received a bursary which allowed me to do a UKCC (UK Coach Certificate) Level 1 Teaching Aquatics certificate with Scottish Swimming (governing body for swimming in Scotland). The course helps develop teaching skills along with introducing the knowledge, practical skills and safety involved in swimming. With this qualification, you assist a Level 2 teacher who leads the session so you can develop your skills in practice.

"I was very excited to start the course. I did feel quite nervous about being assessed on my practical teaching ability but it went so much better than I first thought. The course consisted of five days of theory and practical sessions.

“I find it very rewarding seeing the children improve and master specific aquatic skills because we both feel a big sense of achievement afterwards, which is a great feeling!”

"I found a laptop essential for completing tasks on the online portfolio and reviewing slides to prepare for the exam. Scottish Swimming organised a palantypist via Skype to listen to the tutor during the theory sessions. He would type up the tutor’s verbal explanations for me to read as if they were subtitles in real time. It was very helpful and I didn’t miss anything that was said.

"I thoroughly enjoyed learning about each stroke in depth and practising technique analysis for fault corrections and demonstrations. Putting all the theory into practice in real lessons was the most rewarding bit for me because I was able to teach a deaf child for my assessment. I loved it!

"After completing the course I did some shadowing with some other level 1 and 2 teachers so I could develop my teaching skills and understand how different lessons are taught. I had lots of feedback which was so helpful and improved my confidence too.

"I now love working as a swimming coach. I find it very rewarding seeing the children improve and master specific aquatic skills because we both feel a big sense of achievement afterwards, which is a great feeling!

“To a deaf young person considering becoming a swimming coach I’d say do it – I highly recommend it!”

"There are so many different types of learner so my teaching strategies are varied to suit them and the level 2 teachers help me out if I’m struggling. I’ve already signed up for my UKCC Level 2 Teaching Aquatics (which is also funded by a bursary) this summer which I’m really looking forward to!

"To a deaf young person considering becoming a swimming coach I’d say do it – I highly recommend it! Be confident in your teaching ability. Use demonstrations as much as possible and just have fun with it by creating new games or analogies using props or toys – it keeps the children engaged and happy.

"I’m also currently studying Applied Sport and Exercise Science at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen. I’d like to pursue a career in the sports industry and I’d say that this job is my first step into it so I’m interested to see where else it will lead me in future.”

*Deaf-friendly swimming Scotland was funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery fund.