Being able to swim is an essential life skill. However, unlike many other physical skills, learning to swim requires access to both a suitable water space and a good teacher. Despite virtually all local authority-managed swimming pools providing water time for lessons, there are many other UK pools where no lessons take place. Accessing these pools has always been a challenge to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA).
To address this long standing problem, in an industry first, the ASA has developed and implemented an innovative solution. In conjunction with LA Fitness, the ASA set up an independent charitable trust Community Swimming Limited (CSL), which was granted charitable status by the Charity Commission and began operations in February 2011. CSL operates as a separate company from the ASA.
Its principal objective is to deliver swimming lessons in facilities not normally available to the general public. CSL’s aim is that any profit it makes through commercial means will go straight back into swimming through charitable causes at grassroots level. Through its charitable objectives the organisation shares the ASA’s vision of giving more people more opportunities to swim and also to have fun by swimming more often.
How does it work?
Since its launch in 2011, with the help of singer and TV celebrity Alesha Dixon, former Team GB swimmer Mark Foster and principal commercial partner, LA Fitness, CSL has provided administrative support, ASA teaching staff and management expertise to a range of partners. These partners provide the facilities and services that CSL needs to deliver its high-quality ASA swimming lessons. The ASA operates a world renowned Learn to Swim award scheme based on the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim Pathway, a programme the ASA has developed to take children through from their first splash to full competence in the water. With close to two million certificates and badges issued to children all over the world last year alone, the Kellogg’s ASA Awards Scheme continues to be one of the most successful ever in British sport.
CSL has its own governance structure and is controlled by a board of five independent trustees who are responsible for the progress of the organisation, its strategy and operations. The trustees provide expertise drawn not only from the world of swimming, but also public facility operation and commercial management. CSL’s ultimate aim is to enable organisations to bid for funding to enable them to run projects in accordance with the charitable objects.
CSL has a support team based at Loughborough University’s SportPark, which also houses the ASA’s headquarters and other national governing bodies. The support team runs CSL’s online booking system (www.cslbookings.co.uk) and offers administration support to swimming liaison officers and teachers. The system has been set up to make booking swimming lessons easy and also stress-free for customers.
Fiona Pearson, group operations manager, says: “Our ambition is to open up swimming and leisure provision to the community using facilities whose owners may not have done this previously or who now wish this area of their operation to be developed by partnership working. Our lessons follow the British Gas ASA Learn to Swim Pathway, offering a fully comprehensive and progressive programme of swimming lessons for all. The lessons are delivered by professional, trained teachers, resulting in competent, confident and safe swimmers with a wide skill base on which to develop further techniques and the opportunity to enjoy a range of water-based sports in the future.”
Where are the CSL Classes?
Currently operating 655 learn to swim classes every week in 51 LA Fitness health club sites in the UK and Ireland, CSL offers a range of lesson types, including one to one tuition for all abilities, parent and baby lessons, pre-school lessons and adult group lessons.
Like most learn to swim organisations, Community Swimming Limited delivers three groups of 10-week lessons each year with special courses at holiday time.
LA Fitness’s objective in working with CSL was to utilise its pools in a more effective way and to broaden the appeal of swimming and other pool activities to the communities it works with.
CSL’s Learn to Swim programme is delivered by fully qualified ASA teachers who use games, fun techniques and a number of other activities to take children through their aquatic journey; from beginner level to fully competent, confident and safe swimmer. Lessons available include:
- Adult and Child
Adult and Child Lessons are a perfect way to introduce babies and toddlers to water and the pool environment.
- Pre School Swimming
Suitable for children from 3 years old.
- Children Swimming Lessons Stages 1-6
This progressive programme teaches children a wide range of skills which results in them becoming confident and competent swimmer.
- Swim Technique and Stamina Lesson
Distance, medley swims, swimming drills and swimming exercises are delivered within this session. A swimmer who finishes the ASA Learn to Swim Framework will have a life skill that will enable them to take part in any water-based activity they wish; from swimming for fitness to swimming with dolphins, from canoeing to white water rafting.
CSL’s ASA level 2 qualified teachers support and guide adults in the following range of classes:
The project provided a mobile 12m x 6m steel tank above-ground swimming pools to some of London’s most deprived and disadvantaged areas. The project provided school swimming and lessons for people who were not able to access and afford local public swimming facilities. www.makeasplash.co.uk
There are still many useable pools in hotels, academic establishments and in private ownership where CSL could work with the owners to provide ASA swimming lessons through its qualified ASA teachers for the benefit of all.