Another summer is over and the nights are drawing in and becoming cooler. Whilst the Spanish autumn is hardly what anyone would call chilly, being blessed with mainly clear blue skies and warm, sunny days, only a few hardy souls will still be having a daily swim in the pool or a dip in the sea.
Northern European tourists, or those new to the coast, may describe the water temperature as ´quite refreshing´ but those of us who have grown used to living in the sun and with more distant memories of life on an island constantly hit by gales, rain, snow, more gales, more rain do tend to don boots and jumpers as soon as the clocks go back. A daily dip in the pool is deferred until around the next summer solstice, as the water temperature slowly creeps back up to 24 or 25 degrees Celsius. This, of course, makes the swimming season very short, even if you start at the beginning of June or even May.
For children who are perhaps having swimming lessons at school, in outdoor pools, the season is substantially reduced, due to the summer holidays. Of course swimming lessons can continue out of school over the summer months but they are costly and most qualified swimming instructors operate in pools belonging to urbanisations; which means that, unless you live there, you are not permitted to swim there.
As we all know, most children can ´swim´ from an early age by ´swim´ we actually mean that little Johnny or Jenny can splash around and stay afloat in the pool or have maybe accomplished the doggy paddle but to master style and technique requires proper coaching from a qualified instructor. To swim well children need to have a good stroke, body position, arm action, leg action and to learn breathing techniques and timing which is a lot to learn in the few months when outdoor pools are in action.
In the UK, swimming is a compulsory part of the National Curriculum at KS2 (years 7 to 11). An Ofsted report highlighted the Kelloggs ASA Awards Scheme as a best practice model for school swimming. It also noted that the Kelloggs is a key motivational tool for children, with many pupils reporting increased self-esteem when they progressed and achieved awards.
Whilst most Iinternational Schools on the coast offer the National Curriculum or at least an version of this, very few have the facilities to deliver swimming lessons as part of the curriculum except during the last few weeks of the summer term. With ten months or so between lessons, it is doubtful that much of the instruction will be retained. Swimming lessons, like all other disciplines, have to be consistent to be effective.
Pupils of Mayfair Academy Primary School are fortunate enough to have weekly swimming lessons with a professional swimming instructor, throughout the academic year. With the water heated to a very comfortable twenty nine degrees, the little swimmers can develop their style and techniques like miniature Katie Hoffs or Michael Phelps. Many of them have already achieved their ASA Water Safety and Water Skills Challenge certificates and the pupils themselves agree that it is an added bonus of going to school!