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Jo's Story

Thank you, Birthlight for giving me this opportunity to share my story in your newsletter.

To give you a really quick recap of myself ….I have been a Birthlight swimming teacher for over nine years and an STA Tutor for six. I set up Little Splashers over ten years ago and together with my Husband, Christian we built Swim Works our first family swim centre three years ago. We wrote Aqua Sensory together over five years ago and have just launched it as an on-line training platform. And as I write this our second family swim centre in Leamington Spa has just opened! Phew! Even writing all that makes me realise how far we have come these last ten years. BUT! I still very much enjoy my Birthlight connections and have made many swim friends over the years.

I hope my swim story will inspire you, and talking of inspiration I am going to draw on mine from the late Steve Jobs, who made that brilliant; Stanford speech. Like it or not, Apple have built a brand that arouses emotions. But, that is where swimming I feel has the advantage over material products. We don’t have to make it up, it is not false. Swimming in its very nature has the power to tap into our emotions. Because, we have the most beautiful energy source to work in - WATER! It was first through Birthlight many years ago that I learnt water has the power to transmit our energies and feelings.

In Steve Jobs style, I am going to tell you three stories about fun, passion and harmony. Which in fact form our Swim Works values too.

FUN – I look back and even I am not sure how Christian and I have managed to achieve what we have done together. Of course, there have been hard times! I make it no secret that I have had really low points in my life. Firstly, I didn’t have the best family start in life, so this gives me an inner joy when I see families having fun together in the water. And secondly, I set up Little Splashers on the back of being made redundant on maternity leave.

Joining up the dots backwards….. these low points in my life gave me the grit and determination to succeed. And now, what pulls me along is having FUN! Fun with working with my husband Christian, and fun with our family, as our two children are involved in everything we do. Work doesn’t seem so hard when you can ‘see the good, laughter and light in everything’. Our core value of fun, shines through our baby and preschool programme. Our teachers enjoy teaching and have fun, you can see how our programme engages the parents, when we can learn in the water and have fun together. And you can definitely see the fun we have in designing and creating all the fishy messages in our swim centres.

PASSION – Water gives me a sense of who I am. I was the child who was the last in the bath with prune fingers, chlorine became my perfume of choice as I often
escaped from family life to go to the pool. Water is a place that gives me the time, space and reflective safe place to simply be. This passion for water shines through not only me, but in our Swim Works teachers too. We often joke, ‘never trust a swim teacher with dry hair’. We are the role models for our parents and children – the love of water and our presence in the water has deep connections. In everything we do, we always remain grounded in our core value – PASSION! Being a team member at Swim Works this passion for teaching swimming, shines through. From cleaning our centre from top to toe, regularly getting together for training, creating our programme, delivering our lessons and communicating with our swimmers.

HARMONY – last but not least. We create harmony, a fluid programme from our pre-natal aqua classes, to baby and preschool, to after schools and adults. At Swim Works – we teach all ages – we do the works! Harmony is something we strive for everyone in the pool, we do this by creating sensory harmony. We think about our swimmer’s journey from their house to the pool. We think about communication and cues. We provide support to our sensitive children and parents.
We enjoy the Birthlight ethos; we take some time to slow down in the pool, so our parents don’t miss those small details that matter. Taking the time to tune into the child’s natural interests and curiosities, and slowing down in the pool, helps us to feel the beauty and the simple sensory nature that water can bring.

In 2013 we created our Aqua Sensory programme, a style of class where respect and sensory harmony is at the forefront. You probably know how children learn all about their world through their senses. In fact, sensory opportunities combined with movement is such a special combination and that is why the pool is the perfect place for learning and discovery play.

We have recently created an online platform whereby swim schools can connect with us and we provide support for them. We are proud of Aqua Sensory. It is a new way of thinking, with new holds and moves, new songs, new equipment and a new approach to being in water. We take traditional dry land sensory activities and therapies into the pool. We are putting sense back in the pool!

We hope you will feel inspired to join us. Together we can make a difference. We have a number of workshops planned in 2018. Thank you Birthlight for your support!

Jo Wilson

Steve Jobs – Stanford Address 2005