Updated: Jan 24, 2019
"Showing me a whole new side of the sport I love."
There comes a point in every professional athletes career where they must have their last dance, their final farewell. This can be an emotional time, a daunting decision for some, it can also be a cause for celebration. For me, after 15 years of giving everything I had to swimming, I was excited at the chance of a new adventure, a new challenge. I knew there was something out there, I just had to find it.
Betchworth, London, April 23rd approximately 8:30am. I find myself standing by a lake at The Surrey Hill Adventure Company. To my right, Keri-anne Payne. To my left, ten enthusiastic open water coaches from all around the world. How and why am I here?
I was taking part in the first STA Open Water Coaching Qualification. Instructed by Olympian Keri-anne Payne, approved by The STA and available for everybody. The course was three days, combining classroom session where we were taught everything we needed to know on delivering world class open water coaching. Covering every aspect of coaching, swimming, and safety in the open water. Along with practical sessions in the water (my favourite part).
The classroom sessions were fantastic, you won’t find a more qualified open water swimmer than Keri-anne. Although Keri-anne was leading the course there was a room full of knowledge with a whole range of backgrounds. The sessions were designed for everyone to share their own experience, working through the session plan under Keri-anne's instruction but discussing as a group. Well we could have talked for hours, the room was full of passion for learning, passion for teaching and most importantly passion for the water.
Moving onto the practical sessions, Keri-anne had a whole range of tests to run us through. Giving everyone the chance to try out new coaching styles and new swimming tricks in the water. It was amazing to see everybody learning so much and teaching in their own unique style. Keri-anne gave us all the tools and knowledge to really help one another. By the end of the course we were all fully equipped to help share Keri-anne's passion of inspiring more people to swim.
What has this course done for me?
I’ll keep this short as this course really has done so much for me as a person and as a swimmer. First off, it’s given me the qualification and knowledge to coach anybody out there that wants to better their swimming. It has also sparked a true passion for the open water, for wild swimming. It was just a few weeks after this course I found myself alongside hundreds of other swimmers. Taking part in the Great Scottish Swim, swimming our way around Loch Lomond. How many people can say that? What an experience in itself. Fast forward again, this time to the Caribbean Island of St Lucia. I found myself coaching some amazing people who shared my passion for swimming and for learning. I was coaching on a beach. In the Caribbean. For two weeks. In the sun. Amazing.
If like myself and Keri-anne you share a passion for swimming, you are up for a new challenge, then I highly recommend this course. It’s given me the confidence, knowledge and qualification to continue my passion for swimming. Showing me a whole new side of the sport I love.