As a business it is necessary that Swim Schools discover how to make the most out of their pool space. You don’t need to have a 25 or 50 metre pool to have a successful learn to swim school. In fact a smaller pool size can be quite advantageous for swim school overheads. But even larger venues should consider whether they are using their pool space effectively. Making the best use of space allows for an enjoyable atmosphere, safe learning environment, productive operating hours and even the development of the best possible skills.
Different Class Types
There are lots of things to consider when establishing how to allocate pool space. Different class types will require difference amounts of space. Over the years Laurie has tried to come up with a space formula which we try to adhere to at all our venues. Of course we need to be flexible with this depending on venue, age and ability but in general we try to follow these guidelines.
|Class Type||Number of students||Ideal Space Allocation|
|Parent and child||6 parents, 6 childrenTeacher in water||6 metres length,4 meter width|
|Beginners learning basic free and back stroke||5 childrenTeacher in water||2 metre lane width,4 to 7 meter distance depending on ability|
|Established learn to swim learning breathing techniques||5 childrenTeacher in water||2 metre lane width,7 to 10 metre distance depending on ability|
|Transition group – freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke moving towards stroke development/squad group||8 childrenTeacher in water or possible deck teaching||2 metre lane width,10 – 12.5 metre distance depending on ability|
|Stroke development or squad groups||8 children per lane,2 or more lanesDeck teaching||Alternating between swimming 12.5, 25 or 50 meters.|
Setting up the Pool Space
Once you establish how much space you need, then you can decide how to set up the pool. Decide if you are going to set the teaching spaces and have the teachers move around or if you are going to give the teachers an area of their own to teach in which they adjust the space accordingly. Either way it is vital that you are organised, especially at venues where numerous teachers are working at one. You need to have a system which makes it easy for the parents and the staff. The most likely scenario is that you will have a combination of these techniques. But Laurie’s number one rule for space allocation is to define the teaching area.
Have a Defined Teaching Pool Space
Defining the teaching area with a lane rope, marker or even a teaching bench is essential. Having a defined teaching area establishes a safe and secure learning environment and makes it easier for teachers to supervise their students. Defining the area also helps with group communication and avoids participants flowing over into another teaching area. It will also help keep swimmers safe and supervised within the lesson. Teachers need to maintain class control for safety and learning reasons and a defined class area will assist that. The swim school will need to provide teachers with equipment such as lane ropes, markers, rope, benches or noodles – the possibilities and endless and only limited by your imagination.
The Benefit of Teaching Configurations
Important tips for setting up a teaching area:
- Define the teaching space
- Small areas help with class control, supervision and safety
- Pool design is important but if you don’t have it utilise equipment
- Work with other staff members to help facilitate your lesson plan
Teaching configurations will also allow you to make the most out of the pool space. For example using wave formation, lane circling, circuit activities or even a combination of these will be relevant to different teaching spaces. In a class of non swimmers a small teaching area of just 2 metres by 2 metres could be ideal. That way the teacher is in a position to respond immediately to all swimmers at any time. The class can then do follow the leader circuit activities combining entries and exits, breath control and submersions, mobility with monkeys on the wall and a floating activity. Swim schools could encourage their deck supervisors to examine each of their instructors teaching spaces and come up with constructive ways to make the most of the environment. This may even result in improved maximum practice time for the students in the class.
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By Laurie Lawrence