*You may want to grab a cuppa for this one. It’s a bit long, but I wanted to give Swimming Nature the full and fair review that they deserve. If you are already looking to book, there’s a 10% off code at the bottom of this post.
I’ve been on the lookout for beginners children’s swimming lessons for sometime now. Little Button has always loved the water. Whether at the beach, the pool or even the bath, it’s one of her happy places. She’s been quite content with just splashing about and building up her confidence. But after a lovely trip to Center Parcs in half term, getting her water safe and swimming unaided felt top priority. But how do you know if a local pools swimming classes will be any good, and most importantly safe? I’ll be honest. After hearing a few horror stories of local swimming instructors turning their backs on their class, as well as a parent having to jump in mid-class to rescue their little one, I’ve been pretty put off. A lot. But just when I felt like giving up on my search, Swimming Nature found us!
Swimming Nature is a brilliant swim school that operates out of private pools (such as fitness centres and spas) across the UK. Swimming lessons are offered on a 1-to-1 or 2-to-1 basis, meaning that lessons are fully tailored to the swimmer, rather than a huge class. Their ethos is first and foremost ‘water is our friend’. With a clear passion for encouraging swimmers to feel really comfortable in the water, before introducing them to stroke techniques.
Little Button was invited to try out an intensive week of 1-to-1 private swimming lessons with Swimming Nature. As a complete beginner, this sounded like the perfect way to get her in the water and see what would happen. There are quite a few pools around us in London that Swimming Nature run from, so I picked the Fitness First Highbury branch and we excitedly waited for Little Buttons first day of class.
A few days before her first class, we had a call from Swimming Nature who asked questions about Little Button, checking her level and how she felt in the water. This was to be fed back to the swimming instructor so he had an idea of where she was at, before meeting her poolside. I was very impressed by the care taken with this, and it was also very reassuring from a parents point of view.
On the day, we found that Fitness First Highbury was very easy to get to and just round the corner from Arsenal tube station on the Piccadilly Line. When we got there, the reception staff were very welcoming and it was just a case of signing in and heading to the changing rooms. For anyone who hasn’t been to a Fitness First venue, it’s seriously plush!
There was a little moment where Little Button stalled in the changing rooms from nerves. So we headed poolside as soon as she was ready, so she could have a little peek at the lessons before hers.
The pool was spotless. Lovely and warm, not busy, and had plenty of seating to accommodate lesson spectators. Swimming Nature appeared to have one reserved lane for the private lessons taking place (2 lessons running simultaneously with 2 seperate instructors). Which gave a huge space for the learners, and no worries about crashing into anyone.
Little Buttons face lit-up as she watched the instructors encouraging their swimmers in such a positive way. All nerves gone. She couldn’t wait to get in the water for her 1st dip.
We were already told that Little Buttons instructor was called Brandon, but he made a point of introducing himself and spent a bit of time chatting to her before her lesson. I could see her shoulders relaxing, her smile beaming, and off she went into the water with him without a care in the world.
We love that the Swimming Nature instructors get into the water with their swimmers.
As in seriously get in. I had to hold back a giggle watching Brandon and Little Button disappearing under the water, blowing bubbles together across the pool.
In all the time we have spend at different pools checking out (from a distance) other swimming lessons, not once have I seen an instructor doing this. They are either standing poolside shouting orders, or in t-shirts and shorts, waist deep at the most, showing the swimming stroke through thin air.
In that moment, I knew right away that Swimming Nature was head and shoulders (at least) above the level of all the other swimming schools we had seen in the way they teach, and their understanding of how children learn.
Brandon’s interaction with Little Button was so relaxed and calm. There was jumping in, lots of swimming underwater and floating. I don’t think I’ve seen her move so fast!
The time went past so quickly for me watching her, so filled with joy at being in the water. But the half hour lesson was really plenty for a 5 year old. She was completely shattered after. And, slept like a log all through the night! LOL. Bring on lesson 2!!
Little Buttons 2nd lesson started off quickly as introductions had already been made the day before. Super keen, off she went, and Brandon got to work encouraging her growing confidence in the water. By the end of her 2nd lesson she was swimming on her back for a length! *I must have looked like a fish with my mouth dropped open in surprise. Because yes, anything on her back had previously had her screeching ‘no way’. What can I say? Brandon had all the magic!
Little Button raced to her 3rd lesson on the Wednesday. We headed out a bit earlier than usual because she just couldn’t wait to get to the pool. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her so passionate about an activity. There’s been a few. Football, ballet, gymnastics…none have given her the amount of ooomph that was radiating out of her now.
We literally turned the corner towards the pool and there, I had a missed call. Chasing behind her, I gave it a quick check and it was Swimming Nature cancelling her lesson, just as we had arrived.
To say she was upset was an understatement! Ekk!
After a quick chat with the reception, due to an issue with the water, the pool had been closed. Nothing to do with Swimming Nature at all I must add. These things do happen, and they had called us as soon as they were made aware of the problem.
It could have all gone horribly wrong. But not to let a closed pool stop them, the customer service team at Swimming Nature pulled out all the stops. Ensuring that everyone was either placed at a different pool, given alternative dates, or given credit back into their accounts for the missed lessons that week (the pool ended up having to close for 3 days).
Swimming Nature worked closely with us, placing Little Button at a different location for her 3rd and 4th lessons for the rest of that week. And then a different date for her 5th make-up lesson back at Fitness First Highbury the following week. Again, I was impressed with Swimming Nature’s customer service.
Which brings me on nicely to how amazing Kris was at Fitness First Baker Street during Little Button’s 3rd and 4th lessons. This actually gave me the perfect opportunity to see if Brandon (Highbury) was just a one-off star instructor, or whether actually, excellence ran in the Swimming Nature family as a standard. It did!
Again, the venue was plush. The pool was incredible, with mood lightning too! And when we got poolside, we could see a similar set up of a private lane for the 2 lessons, simultaneously running, with the 2 instructors.
As Brandon had previously, Kris came to introduce himself, and within minutes, Little Button was off! Comfortable, happy and giving it her all. It was fun, and because of her progression with Brandon, Kris was able to inject a bit of technique into her swimming too. The difference from lesson 1 to 4 was a huge surprise!
Both lessons were easy going, full of swimming, and left Little Button on a huge swimming high. *Plus I had days of ‘Kris said….’ from her, which is always a good sign.
Not phased at all by the change of instructors, Little Button was looking forward to meeting Jhonn, her swimming instructor for her last lesson of the intensive course. As with Brandon and Kris, Jhonn made her feel comfortable right away. There were moments when all that could be heard were buckets of giggles, but there was also some serious swimming going on. With buckets of encouragement from Jhonn and Little Button so willing to try her best, further progression was made from her still! What a week and a half!
Little Button thoroughly enjoyed her lessons with Swimming Nature, and following her last lesson wanted to know when she would be going back.
She adored Jhonn, saying he was very funny and made her laugh. She loved the daredevil tricks (in her eyes) that she did with Kris. Excited by being a mermaid diving under the water. And jumping into the pool over a noodle float. And she was in awe of Brandon at how he taught her to float and swim in her back, even though she had previously hated going onto her back in the water at all.
So all in all it was a huge thumbs up from Little Button.
And what did I think?
While she is little, I don’t think I would trust anyone other than Swimming Nature with her swimming lessons. I know that’s a huge sweeping statement to make. But it’s true. Every instructor we met put her safety at the forefront. I spend each half hour watching them, watching her closely. Not once did anyone turn their back to her. Not once were they distracted by something or someone else. If anything, this was my major worry about swimming lessons, but Swimming Nature’s instructors proved that they were different, and in a completely different league to other swim schools.
Little Buttons progression was just an unexpected plus. When she started her lessons, I had hoped that it would give her confidence to start termly swimming lessons in September. But with the help of Swimming Nature, she’s actually swimming and is so passionate about it too.
Fancy giving Swimming Nature swimming lessons at try? Use this code to gain 10% off your first booking: 3LB10.
A huge thank to Alex, Brandon, Kris and Jhonn.