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Meet the Team

"We believe that it’s not enough just to learn to swim, we want to inspire our swimmers to love the water."

Penny Watkins - Founder and Instructor

I’ve always felt more at home in the water than on the land and for me, swimming was a skill that came naturally. As a child, I swam competitively for many years and my passion for the water stayed with me into adulthood.

I first experienced the joy of teaching others about the wonder of water and the aquatic world when I managed a Scuba Diving centre in the Canary Islands. I gained a wealth of experience in teaching diving and snorkelling skills to people of all ages, nationalities and abilities.

When I returned the UK, I decided to follow my heart and pursue a career in swimming teaching.

In 2012 I was offered the opportunity to take over the running of a small local swimming school and Aqualife Swimming was born.

Five years on, I am proud to work with a passionate and talented group of swimming teachers to deliver swimming lessons to hundreds of individuals every week. I am now also a STA Tutor and absolutely love helping people to become swimming instructors and introducing them to this amazing career.

 

Qualifications:

 

  • STA Tutor 

  • STA Level 2 Swim Instructor 

  • STA Junior Lifeguard Instructor 

  • STA Baby & Pre-School Instructor 

  • STA Antenatal Swimming Instructor 

  • STA/ PADI Snorkelling Instructor 

  • Water Fitness Aquacade Instructor 

  • Aqua Stretch Instructor 

  • RLSS Life Guard 

  • PADI Diver     

  • Safeguarding Children & Adults Certification Makaton User (Foundation level course for professionals) 

  • Reiki Level 2

  • Fin2Fit Mermaid Instructor 

  • Enhanced DBS Check

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Anna Hodges - Partner and Instructor

I remember swimming lessons fondly as a child, starting in beginner classes and working my way through to the Personal Survival Badges.  I always felt very comfortable in the water, but it was during my pregnancies and early experiences in Adult and Child lessons with my little ones that a passion in me ignited for swimming teaching.


I have been working with Penny at Aqualife since leaving London, I joined as an ASA Level 2 Qualified Teacher with ASA Pre-Fundamentals Qualifications enabling me to teach Adult and Child lessons.   Since then my own Aquatic Journey has continued, obtaining further qualifications as an STA Tutor, STA Junior Lifeguard Programme, Adult Lessons, STA Aquacise, and STA Antenatal Swimming Instructor.

 

Qualifications:

 

  • STA Aquatic Tutor

  • ASA UKCC Level 2 Certificate in Teaching Aquatics (QCF)

  • ASA UKCC Level 1 Award in Teaching Aquatics (QCF)

  • ASA Level 2 Award in Coaching Aquatic Pre-Fundamentals (QCF) – Teaching Baby and Pre-School

  • STA Level 2 Aquatics - People with Disablities

  • STA Aquatic Teaching: Aquacise Instructor

  • STA Antenatal Swimming Instructor

  • STA Teaching Adults Instructor

  • STA Junior Lifeguard Instructor including Diving, Starts and Turns specifications

  • STA Internal Quality Assurance Assesor

  • Member of STA & IOS (Institute of Swimming)

  • National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches

  • Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable adults Programme

  • Fin2Fit Mermaid Instructor 

  • Enhanced DBS Check

Emilly Sanderson - Swimming Instructor

I have been swimming teaching for 7 years and absolutely love it; it is no surprise that my favorite Disney princess’s are Moana and the little mermaid!

 

My passion for swimming stems from my childhood mainly due to the positive role models I had. As a swimming teacher I aim to be the positive role model that I had for the children or adults that I am teaching. There is no better feeling than the fulfillment of seeing swimmers (at any level) overcoming hurdles, improving confidence and seeing a smile on their face.

 

Over the last 7 years I have gained experience teaching all ages and abilities from 2 years old to adults and from complete beginners all the way to national level swimmers. For 8 years I swam competitively for the London Borough of Chelsea and Westminster reaching national championship level.

 

As a PE teacher I am able to combine my vast knowledge of swimming with theories of how children learn, to improve my teaching.

 

 

Qualifications:

 

  • Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

  • BSc (Hons) First Class Degree in Sports Science

  • ASA level 1 Award in Teaching Aquatics

  • ASA Level 2 Certificate in Teaching Aquatics

  • STA Level 2 Award in Safety Award for Teachers

  • Enhanced DBS Check

  • STA Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults

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Sheryl Knott - Swimming Instructor

My love for the water came very early, as a small child my mother would call me her little mermaid. I spent my teenage years working as a lifeguard at a lido in South London but it wasn’t until I had children of my own and my son was diagnosed with ASD that I found my passion for teaching, I became a specialised teacher of visual impairment and SEN 9 years ago and loved teaching with a passion ever since, when I was asked by the head teacher of the school I work  if I would be interested in training to become our in-house swimming instructor I jumped at the opportunity to combined my love of teaching and swimming. Since I have for the last 4 years been running my own swimming school within the primary school I work for, teaching children from nursery within adult and baby classes to year 6 and it has been an absolute joy to watch the confidence, ability and love for swimming grow.

 

I’ve worked for Aqualife swimming for the past 18 months and it’s been a delight to work with a team of teachers that share the same passion and enthrallment I have.

Qualifications:

  • ASA UKCC Level 1 Award in Teaching Aquatics (QCF)

  • ASA UKCC Level 2 Certificate in Teaching Aquatics (QCF)

  • STA Baby and Preschool instructor

  • NRASTC Life Guards Certificate

  • Safety award for teachers Up-Skill levels 1 and 2

  • Safe Guarding Children, Adults and Vulnerable People

  • Enhanced DBS Check

Becky Blake - Swimming Instructor

I have always been very sporty, and swam competitively from the age of seven until I was a teenager. My favourite race was 800m front crawl!
I then moved on to first work as a lifeguard, then a swimming teacher. I now have fifteen years experience, and have taught babies to adults, beginners to competitors, and everything in between!
I have always adored teaching swimming, I enjoy watching the confidence and progression in learners grow.
Having four children of my own; two with additional needs, has really enhanced my passion of teaching this wonderful life skill while being safe in water.
I can honestly say that I love teaching, and aim to get to know each learner as an individual to support and help them on their swimming journey.

Qualifications:

  • STA Level 2 Award in Swimming Teaching (QCF)

  • ASA Learn to Swim- Competitive Swimming

  • ASA Learn to Swim- Adult and Child

  • Enhanced DBS check

  • STA Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults

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Jake Osborne - Swimming Instructor

I have always loved being involved in physical activities, such as swimming, my mum and dad were very supportive and encouraged me to swim because it was one of my favourite things to do. 

 

Therefore, it was very natural to train as a swimming teacher and take pride in not only sharing my love of the water but encouraging students to improve and become competent swimmers as a life skill.

Qualifications:

 

  • STA Level 2 Award in Teaching Swimming

  • STA Safety Award for Teachers

  • Safe Guarding Children, Adults and Vulnerable People

  • Enhanced DBS checked

Gosia (Malgorzata) Zielinska-Dagostin - Swimming Instructor

As a child, I was always surrounded by all kinds of sports as both my parents used to teach PE. It was no surprise when I followed their steps and got my Masters in Academy of Physical Education in my home country of Poland.

 

Since becoming a mum of two children my mission to teach has become stronger than ever. In 15 years of swim teaching I can certainly say that it is not only a life skill but a great way to spend free time, have fun and enjoy aquatics.

 

Qualifications:

 

  • STA Level 2 Swim instructor

  • STA Level 2 Award in Aquatic Teaching Baby & Pre-School

  • STA Baby and Pre-School safety training awards

  • STA Antenatal Swimming Instructor

  • STA Teaching Adults Instructor

  • STA Junior Lifeguard Instructor including Diving, Starts and Turns specifications

  • Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable adults Programme

  • National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches

  • STA Baby and Pre-school submersions

  • STA Baby and Pre-school Diploma Up-skill

  • Swim England Aquatic Skills Framework stages 8/9/10 Synchro 

  • Enhanced DBS Check

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Slawek Szydlowski - Swimming Instructor

Since I was a little boy, I have been in love with watersports, enjoying scuba diving, canoeing and most of all sailing. My passion for swimming brought competition at county and national level, and then on to university where I graduated with a Masters Degree in Sports Science. I later gained coaching qualifications in swimming and athletics.

I have been working as a swimming teacher and coach for more than 20 years. Always been in leisure industry, taking various roles from a Pool Lifeguard, Swimming Instructor, Fitness Instructor, Studio Cycling Instructor to a Centre Manager. Currently I work as a PE teacher and Duke of Edinburgh Co-Ordinator at one of Kent’s Secondary Schools.

Throughout my career, I worked for highly-rated swimming schools in central London, and I have worked with a very broad spectrum of ages and abilities including large group classes for both public and private schools, children with additional needs, competitive swimmers, children and adults.

I find my biggest reward and joy in knowing I had a positive impact on someone’s life and that my guidance and support in their swimming and life is going to bring them many happy memories in the future.

In my spare time, I sail on River Medway, I play piano and I love reading books.

Qualifications
ASA UK Level 2 Swimming Teacher Certificate
NRASTC Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches, The Royal Life Saving Society
Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults
Certified SwimSanity Instructor
First Aid at Work Certificate

Natascha Leach - Swimming Instructor

I have always loved swimming! From a very early age I attended lessons, completing the Learn to Swim Programme, part of which with Aqualife Swimming at Radnor House Swim School and after that swimming competitively with a local club.

I have always had a passion for the water, and when I found out I was no longer able to compete due to injury, I decided to train as a Swimming Teacher myself.   I was inspired by an amazing Teacher and Coach Kenny Hickey, who taught me from the age of five up until I was sixteen. His enthusiasm and dedication to delivering engaging and fun lessons filled me with joy, and I decided that I would become a swimming teacher to give other children what he gave to me, a lifelong love for the water.

Qualifications

Swim England Level 2 Certificate in Teaching Aquatics (QCF)

Swim England Level 1 Award in Teaching Aquatics (QCF)

STA Safety Award for Teachers

Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable adults Programme

Enhanced DBS Check

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Jane Gadsby - Swimming Instructor

Swimming has played a massive part in my life for more years than I care to remember.  I was lucky enough to be born in a generation that had weekly lessons at school from primary school all the way through to public exams at 15. No school holiday was complete without access to some kind of swimming opportunity - pool, lake or sea.

I love most water sports and am currently enjoying aqua aerobics and the occasional wild water swim, alongside pounding the lengths of the pool for a bit of gentle cardio.  Fortunately all four of my (now adult) children have inherited my love of the water and we particularly enjoy coming together for our Boxing Day swims, actively hunting out new places to indulge in a post Christmas dip.

As a qualified primary school teacher, I am experienced in working with young children and thoroughly enjoy tackling the challenges they can sometimes present. I am passionate about the importance of water safety and aim to combine skill acquisition with lots of fun in every lesson.

Qualifications:
STA Level 2 Award in Teaching Swimming
STA Safety Award for Teachers
STA Safeguarding Young People and Vulnerable Adults
PGCE
Enhanced DBS Check

Rebecca  Moore - Swimming Instructor

I come from an active family who love sport, and grew up swimming, paddle-boarding and kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, running and cycling.   My mum enrolled me in swimming lessons when I was very young and I completed the International Learn to Swim programme as a child.  While I thoroughly enjoyed all sports activities, my real passion is swimming.

Most of my working life has been involved in childhood education in one form or another, I hold CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education and have worked as a private Nanny in the UK and abroad and within Early Educational Settings.

I am so fortunate to be able to combine my Early Years experience with my love of the water, and to be able to teach Swimming.  It is an essential life skill, and is extremely rewarding.  The look of achievement on my students' faces when they overcome their fear of water and progress to competent swimmers is wonderful to experience!

Qualifications:
STA Level 2 Award in Teaching Swimming
Swim England Qualification / SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant
STA Safety Award for Teachers
STA Safeguarding Young People and Vulnerable Adults
CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education
Enhanced DBS Check

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