KalliKids Interview Tina Eyre
We take a look at how Tina Eyre, Owner of Swimkidz Oxfordshire, found herself becoming a children's swimming instructor and find out why she chose Swimkidz.
Hi Tina, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be a children’s swimming instructor with Swimkidz?
I Live in Goring with my husband (Roger), daughter (Abigail, almost 5, swims like a dolphin) and puppy (Jasmine). I have a PhD in bioinformatics and used to be a programmer in a research institute studying the genomes of tropical diseases! It was quite a career change!
Wow! Quite a change indeed. How long have you been teaching swimming to children?
Nearly 2 years.
Why did you decide to become a swimming instructor?
I have always loved swimming, although I never swam competitively, just for pleasure. Many of my happiest memories involve swimming- from playing with friends as a child to swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos or snorkeling at the Great Barrier reef.
I also loved taking my daughter to baby swimming lessons when she was little. It became the highlight of my week- although I didn’t then realise how good it was for her.
I wanted to return to work but I needed a complete career change. I wanted to work with people and have a different challenge. When I saw a Swimkidz franchise advertised I was really keen. It is such a sociable job, it involves being in the water which I love and it has the added challenge of running my own business, which I have never done before.
And why did you decide Swimkidz was the franchise for you?
I love the ethos of Swimkidz- small and friendly so that we can give a personal service that goes right from birth up to age 10. That means when a child loves their swimming teacher they can stay with that teacher right the way through. Also our teachers are trained to a really high level, so even with the babies we are doing things that get them in the right habits for swimming well. You might not be able to tell, because it is disguised behind fun games and songs, but there is a good reason behind all the things we do.
It sounds like you have an awful lot of fun with the kids. But apart from the fun, are there benefits to a child’s early years development through swimming?
Swimming has been shown to have great benefits for baby development- physically, mentally and socially. They are strengthening their muscles, lungs and heart, developing good balance and co-ordination and interacting with their little friends. Various studies have found that babies that swim have advanced motor development, problem solving and social skills, walk earlier and do better in grasping tests.
Babies are so at home in the water. They find it such a mesmerising and calming environment that sometimes the tiny ones fall asleep in the class! It is also a wonderful bonding experience for parents to spend quality time with their babies.
Besides learning to swim, do children learn other valuable skills at your classes?
For the younger ones especially, the most important things that we teach aren’t actually the swimming skills. The water safety and water confidence skills are much more important. When a child who is not confident in water falls in, they generally go into shock and aren’t able to call for help or to help themselves. But a water confident child will have experienced the feeling of falling into water and will know exactly what to do. We practice these kinds of skills right from the first lesson because we believe they are so important. Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in children so we really feel passionately about how important it is.
What changes have you seen to the children’s activity and service industry since you started?
People are starting to realise the importance of water safety and to think about giving their children swimming lessons much earlier than they used to.
Running a swimming school must come with some occasional issues, what would you say was the most common issue you deal with at work?
There is such a huge demand for our classes that we would love to grow more but what slows us down is a lack of pools to hire. If anyone has a pool they would consider renting out, do get in touch!
Hiring instructors must be an important aspect of growing your team at Swimkidz, but how important is it to have a team you can rely on at work?
Very important. Our clients trust us with their children so they must have complete confidence in us! We take their babies underwater, sometimes when they are only a few weeks old. We understand that for many parents that can be pretty nerve-wracking at first- until they realise how much their babies love it! So our instructors need to be highly trained and knowledgeable, but also sympathetic and understanding.
We are currently looking to expand our team. If anyone thinks they have what it takes to be a great Swimkidz instructor, do get in touch to find out more about joining us.
And finally after a busy week at Swimkidz, how do you like to relax and unwind?
I love water so much that my favorite activity is reading- in the bath! I also love walking our dog, eating out, spending time with my daughter and traveling.