Holiday Swimming

MyBump2Baby Expert Podcast


Holiday Swimming
  • Holiday Swimming

Today, on the MyBump2Baby expert podcast, we are talking to special guest Ali Beckman, technical director and head teacher of Puddle Ducks. Ali shares her top tips on holiday swimming and things to think about when going abroad with children. We discuss what to wear for swimming on holiday, what toys we should use in the pool and ones we shouldn’t, the length of time babies and toddlers should be in the water and we also touch on the amazing Puddle Ducks’ lessons and franchise opportunities too.

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[00:00:00] Carla: We are Google’s number one, baby and toddler directory. We cover everything from pregnancy to preschool, and we are home to over 8,000 business listings. Join over 160,000 parents using our website each month, and you can find your local groups, classes, services, and support in your local area. Are you looking for local baby and toddler swimming lessons in your local area?

[00:00:33] Carla: Head over to to find your nearest swimming lessons.

[00:00:52] Carla: Hello and welcome to My Bump 2 Baby Expert podcast, where we bring experts from all over the Uk. To answer your questions on everything, pregnancy to preschool, holiday season is just around the corner, and I know for a lot of parents, they can get quite nervous about swimming on holiday. What you need, tips, all of those type of questions that you might have.

[00:01:20] Carla: So today we have invited on a very, very special guest. We’ve invited on Ali Beckman, who is the technical director and also the head teacher of the fabulous franchise Puddle Ducks. So she’s gonna be answering all our questions on holiday swimming today. I hope you enjoy this episode.

[00:01:45] Carla: Hello everybody and welcome to My Bump 2 Baby’s Expert Podcast. Today I am joined by the lovely Ali Beckman, the technical director of Puddle Ducks. Hello, how are you? 

[00:01:58] Ali: Good morning. I’m fine. How are you? 

[00:01:59] Carla: I’m very well, thank you. I’m really excited to have you on here today cuz we’re gonna be talking all about, uh, my favourite thing to do, which is holidays and swimming.

[00:02:07] Carla: So I’m really looking forward to this episode. Um, can you tell us a little bit about you, Ali? 

[00:02:14] Ali: Yeah. Um, I have come from a, a, a, a very big swimming family. So swimming has been, uh, my life for, for as long as I can remember. My mum’s a, a swimming coach and has been for 40 odd years, and we were all, um, me and my sisters were swimmers.

[00:02:27] Ali: Um, and, you know, I was really lucky enough to be able to turn my, kind of, my passion and my hobby into my career. Um, so I’ve also got a project management background, so that helps obviously with the role that I’m doing. Um, and just, yeah, I mean, you know, what an amazing thing. To do, to be able to love your job because it’s what you did as a hobby. So, um, yeah. 

[00:02:49] Carla: Definitely do you know, that’s exactly how I feel about My Bump 2 Baby, actually. Um, because the thing is when you find something that you love so much, it’s just, it’s, we’re gonna get onto him that, uh, career a bit later anyway, cuz you guys have have a few options anyway of different ways that, that um, parents can, can move into the swimming kind of franchise opportunities.

[00:03:09] Carla: So we’re gonna share that at the end as well. But today we’re gonna be talking about holiday swimming cuz we’re. Got lots of holidays around the corner and since Covid, I think a lot of people have kind of been holidaying in the uk afraid to book holidays abroad. And unfortunately with the weather in the UK cause it’s never guaranteed is it.

[00:03:28] Carla: Um, so a lot of people are venturing abroad and I know when it comes to holiday swimming, I know as I’m mum myself, I sometimes get a bit worried, like a bit like overwhelmed, like what should I be doing? What should I be taking? So I just thought an episode on this would be really helpful to mums and dads out there.

[00:03:45] Carla: So, so first of all, what should a baby wear for swimming on holiday? What would you be, your recommendations? 

[00:03:53] Ali: Yeah, I mean obviously I’ve, I’ve had two children myself and a little bit more, a little bit older now. Um, but yeah, I, I remember going through all that and packing suitcases. I mean, we’ve got to take so much stuff on holiday with us as it is.

[00:04:04] Ali: Um, but my number one is, Absolutely a UV sunsuit, um, you know, as big as they can be in terms of, you know, from ankles to, to wrist to to neck. Um, because you know that they are designed for sun protection. It’s made from fabric, which black blocks out, you know, the harmful UV rays. Um, and you know, the longer like say the better because then we’re not slapping as much sun cream on them.

[00:04:28] Ali: Um, So, yeah, definitely pack that, you know, a couple of those. Um, and, you know, those swim nappies are really, really important as well. You know, every single pool, any decent pool will insist on kind of the baby and toddler being double wrapped. Um, and in, in that, what we mean is they’ve got an under nappy and an over nappy.

[00:04:46] Ali: Um, and that under nappy can be disposable or you know, it can be, um, if it’s certainly ongoing on holiday, it’s probably better if you’ve got some recyclable ones in there cause you don’t wanna pack everything. Um, But yeah, then make sure the over nappy has got some cuffs on. So if something does happen in the pool, nothing’s gonna leak out because you really don’t want to be responsible for a holiday pool shutting down because there’ve been an accident and we’ve seen that before as well.

[00:05:10] Ali: So, um, yeah, that, that’s the main thing. Um, and then, you know, for me, absolutely a sunhat is. Is crucial. People don’t seem to realize, especially if you obviously, um, when you’re abroad, but you know, in the UK as well, most of the UV UV rays from the sun can actually reflect off the surface of the water. So you end up getting double the amount of sun, you get the sun on your head and then the sun hitting the water and coming up to your, your face as well.

[00:05:35] Ali: So, you know, I don’t know whether you’ve ever been kind of swimming in the sea and you come out and, you know, if you’ve not put sometime lotion on, like, I’m terrible. I always forget. I always did the kids Oh yeah. But never did me. Yeah, yeah. But you come out of the sea and you’ve got this amazing tan and that’s because you are getting double the amount of UV rays and, and we have to remember that with children as well.

[00:05:55] Ali: So, you know, a sun hat is crucial and making sure there’s tons of suntan lotion on the face and you know, the hands, anything that’s exposed. Um, and also the glasses as well. There’s no reason why the children can’t wear glasses. You know, you go to opticians these days and it’s, the one thing to go on and on about is, you know, make sure you wear sunglasses, make sure you want wear sunglasses and you know, our, our babies and toddlers should be wearing them. And there’s some fantastic ones out there now that you can get on these little bands that go at the back of the head. Um, so yeah, it seems a bit overkill. It really does. But you do not wanna see a baby burn, and unfortunately we see it a lot. Um, it, it’s just horrendous. It really is. So, um, yeah, that the sunsuit, the hat, the nappies and the, the goggles. 

[00:06:37] Carla: That’s brilliant. And, and out of interest, actually, you know, with the sun cream, would you still put sun cream underneath the UV suit or not? 

[00:06:45] Ali: I haven’t done, and obviously I’m not an expert in, in sun creams and everything, but I haven’t done, because if it’s a UV suit, you get 90, but about 98, if it’s a decent one, about 98% protection, um, obviously they’re, they’re in the water.

[00:06:58] Ali: So I would put it, I always used to put it around kind of the seams and everything. But, I, I didn’t put it underneath as well, cuz there, there was no. No point. But yeah, I’m, I’m not an expert in sun cream. I’m not.

[00:07:08] Carla: Of course, of course 

[00:07:09] Ali: Always covered the kids, but never me. 

[00:07:11] Carla: Yeah, I know. You know, that is, yeah, exactly. I know. It’s always the case though, cuz you forget. I mean, even if the, the worst, the worst times is, is when there’s a bit of a breeze really, because you can feel like, oh, it’s not that hot, and then you don’t put it on and it’s just so, so important. So yeah, top tip then will link to all of those things at the bottom of this podcast as well.

[00:07:33] Carla: So. Toys in the swimming pool abroad, what would you say about that? Safe? Would you avoid them? What do you think? 

[00:07:41] Ali: Oh God, no. You know, children learn through play. So anything you can get in there to, you know, keep ’em entertained. And, you know, a lot of children, well most of the, the children in our lessons, uh, uh, at Puddle ducks are learning through songs and activities and play.

[00:07:55] Ali: They don’t realize they’re learning to swim. Um, and, you know, we use a lot of toys within our lessons, which are, you know, really important. I think if you’re gonna take toys with you, just be really careful. I know it sounds ridiculous, but make sure there’s not a hole in it, because what happens, it collects the, the, uh, water and that water starts to stagnate and it’s, you know, really, really unhealthy.

[00:08:14] Ali: We use toys where all of the holes are sealed. Or they’ve not got them. Um, so I think that’s one of the things. Obviously nothing that can be swallowed, anything that can kind of fit into your luggage. So, you know, inflatable balls are great cuz they pla uh, pack, um, completely flat. We’ve got some, uh, rubber ducks in our lesson, some branded rubber ducks, um, which the kids absolutely love.

[00:08:35] Ali: Um, so, you know, they’re fabulous to just shove into a suitcase. But anything you can find really, um, in terms of kind of aids rather than toys. We do give a lot of advice about that. Um, just being very careful to avoid those seats, you know, that you see the children sat in the pools. Um, they’re not great.

[00:08:55] Ali: They’re very tempting to walk away from our turnaround from, because you think they’re supported, but they can tip over so easily. Um, so we, we say, just to avoid those seats, Um, and you know, the inflatable noodles, the woggles, yes. They’re fabulous, you know, to pop again into your suitcase and take with you and anything, which isn’t a fixed buoyancy aid.

[00:09:17] Ali: Um, because within our lessons, we don’t use any fixed buoyancy. The children, when they’re ready to swim, they’ll push that, um, woggle or the noodle, or they’ll float away. Um, When they’re ready. Whereas if you’ve got fixed armbands or discs or anything like that, you never know when the child’s ready. And again, it’s that temptation to think they’ve got a buoyancy aid, I can step away.

[00:09:38] Ali: I can go and sun bath, they’re okay. They’re not, um, so they need that full supervision. Um, and, you know, some of the, the armbands and the disc give the children that false sense of security and shifts the body position and they might have been taught without them. Um, so, you know, the best ways for parent to hold them or for the child to hold parent.

[00:09:58] Ali: But toys are amazing, you know, just letting them play anything can be a toy. I remember going away with my two. And it was literally a plastic water bottle that we filled up and, and it was like endless one for hours and thinking it’s a water bottle. 

[00:10:14] Carla: It’s crazy, isn’t it? I know all this money we spend on the birthdays and Christmas, so just need a water bottle. No, that, that’s brilliant. No, that’s great advice. I actually remember years ago when I did swimming lessons. I mean years ago now. Um, but um, we used to learn years ago with armbands and I remember this one boy walking into the pool and he thought he had armbands on and he just jumped in and went under the water.

[00:10:38] Carla: Luckily, obviously the teacher got him out and everything and she was paying attention, but I think sometimes it can be easy to forget that you’ve not actually got them on it for a child as well. 

[00:10:47] Ali: Yeah. And you know, there are lessons where arm bands are used and quite often it’s when the teachers are teaching from poolside and there’s an assistant in the water and you know, and there’s other, um, types of lessons where the teachers in the pool, we’ve never used them, we like children to understand from very, very early on their buoyancy in the water, how their body works in the water, and also from a lifesaving, a personal survival point of view. If they fell in, like you say, they expect to have that, um, security that will bubble up to the surface. Whereas, you know, within adolescents, we’re teaching them from very early on that if you fall in the water, you kick up to the surface, you know, you resurface on your own.

[00:11:25] Ali: Um, and you know, you either do you treading water or you float on your back or you reach for a point of safety. And it’s very different when you talk with arm bands. And I think, yeah, and, and again, we like to say to the parents, we try to encourage ’em, we don’t tell them we’re not dictorial, but we do say, if you go in on holiday, you know, try not to put the armbands on them because look how far they’ve come and they’re doing it all on their own and September’s a difficult time for, um, teachers at puddle ducks you know, the ones where the kids have been on holiday with arm bands. So it’s like, oh, we’re gonna have to start again

[00:11:57] Ali: . Yeah. Oh 

[00:11:57] Carla: yeah. I bet, I bet it is. I know that’s the thing. It is. Um, this is, this is why this episode’s really useful of all the different things that you can do cuz swimming, when you go on holidays, such a big part of it as well, isn’t it?

[00:12:08] Carla: And it’s, you can make such lovely memories swimming and it should be a, you know, a very nice experience. But as I said, I get a bit nervous because, you know, Pools, you just hear like, oh gosh, you know, you just, it’s just frightening. So I like to make sure I’ve got everything full of eyes on them at all times and everything and just as safe as can be, but also as fun as it can be as well. So.

[00:12:29] Ali: Oh yeah, fab. And you know, if you want that bronzed face, then you know, being in that water is great. It’s like, say you’re getting double the uv ray. So, uh, I used to come back from holidays. My face was lovely and brown and the rest of me wasn’t, cuz I spent all the time in the water with the kids.

[00:12:43] Carla: Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. Do you know now I know that I’ll be in there a lot more actually. Uh, instead of getting the husbands to be getting there more, so, so, yeah. Um, you know, with, um, swimming on holiday, is there an amount of time that you think is too long for a child to be in the water? 

[00:13:00] Ali: It’s not necessarily the, the length. Um, as such, it’s more about the kind of the stimulation, the over stimulation and the, um, the temperature. So babies under six months of age can’t shiver. They don’t have the ability to shiver. So I think when we keep them in water, we think, well, they’re not shivering, they’re not cold. Um, but they, they physically can’t do it until they’re about six months of age. So we don’t have that sign really though, whether they’re cold or not. Um, so we have to look at other things. You know, we look at them, uh, blue lips, modelled skin, um, and, you know, limiting it to about 20 to 30 minutes is really important. And, you know, the guidance for not to six months, it’s around 30 degrees Celsius, which.

[00:13:41] Ali: It’s quite difficult in some of the holiday pools that you have because not all of them are, are at that temperature. So, um, I think, you know, if you are going to take them in and it’s cooler than that, you wanna be doing it in 10 minutes at a time, um, and keeping them close to you so you’ve got that body warmth.

[00:13:59] Ali: Um, but you know, they get really restless because it’s not comfortable for them at all. Um, and you know, 12, about 12 pounds as well. So baby’s up to about six months. Um, and any baby’s over six months who are under 12 pounds, it should be about 30 degrees. So that, that’s one of the main things to think about.

[00:14:17] Ali: And, um, Also babies under three months are really highly sensitive to sensory, uh, stimulation. So the light, the noise, and you know what it’s like going in a holiday pool, you know, these kid’s jumping and splashing adults jumping and splashing around. Yeah. So it’s being aware of that as well and trying to find the right time in the day.

[00:14:35] Ali: If it’s, you know, you can go in when it’s a little bit quieter for the younger ones. Um, it’s not great for their child development if we’re overstimulating them when they’re so young. So, um, when you kind of get to toddler age, um, you can’t get them out the pool. You just can’t get them out the pool and, you know, you know, when the cold are now they’ll start to shiver and you know, it, it’s, so, it’s not really about the length of time, it’s just about the temperature, which that’s really important.

[00:15:02] Carla: That’s great advice. Thank you so much. That’s really useful. Um, so. I know we touched on times then when you said, um, you know, the, the certain times of of going in the pool. Is there any times of the day that we should be avoiding? Would it be the normal 12 till three, you know, kind of with the sun at is highest or Yeah, 

[00:15:22] Ali: 12 till three is not great, but you know, it’s obviously everybody has, every child has a different routine. Um, you know, I know my, my daughter, um, I mean, she’s 16 now, but her, we used to call it the witching hour. Um, it used to be between three and five when nothing we did would settle her. But if we took her in the swimming pool, she’d happily stay there for a couple of hours, you know, and, and she, she was brilliant at that time.

[00:15:47] Ali: Um, you know, any other time that, you know, I, I kind of would, would avoid Yeah. I’m really kind of calmed down. Um, so yeah, I mean, obviously if it’s an indoor pool then it doesn’t make any difference. It’s, it’s finding that we, we have, I’ve had customers who have brought their child to me into the lessons and the child has not been settled. They’ve cried all the way through it, and the parents have said, oh, they hate swimming. They hate swimming. And I said, okay, let’s have a look at their usual day. You know, and they, they brought them to me at like 11 o’clock in the day and they said, tell me what usual day is.

[00:16:20] Ali: Well, nine until 10, they do this, 10 to, and then 11 till one. They usually sleep. Okay. So you’ve just brought them to, to me during their swimming lesson, obviously the, the restless, you know, they’re overtired, they need, that’s their sleep time. Mm-hmm. So it is, it is trying to find that, um, the time and the day that suits them best and, and not panicking if they are starting to cry when they’re in the pool for the first time.

[00:16:44] Ali: Cuz it just may, might be that they’re overstimulated, they’re overtired. And so many parents say they hate swimming. They don’t hate swimming. They spent nine months in water in the womb. It’s a natural environment for them. But you’ve gotta take everything else into consideration. Um, So, um, yeah, it’s, it’s not giving up, it’s just trying to find the right time for your baby.

[00:17:03] Carla: That’s really good advice because I, I’m actually, I’m going on holiday in a few weeks and listening to what you’re saying and I’ve got Olivia at home and she’s 16 months and she naps in the morning and that, yeah. Now I think, oh right, okay. I can figure out your day a bit more than, can’t you really? So that’s really useful. And, um, is there anything else that we should think about as parents when we’re taking our little one swimming. 

[00:17:28] Ali: Um, oh, I could be here all day. Yeah. I think, you know, there’s a few different kind of topics on the, on this and, and you know, one of the ones is, you know, the pressure parents put their children under, especially if the children are already doing swimming lessons, they kind of want to keep it open.

[00:17:44] Ali: They want to, you know, they can see the progression within the swimming lessons and they want that contin to continue. Um, That’s not what you are there for you, you’re not there to teach. You’re there to allow your child to explore and have fun. And children learn through play. Like I said, in our lessons, that’s exactly what they do.

[00:18:00] Ali: They don’t realize they’re learning to swim, but we do the activities so much so that, you know, they’re learning through, through that, um, that fun game or that fun song. So, you know, don’t push them. Um, you know, it, it’s a time for relaxing and having fun as a family and bonding. And again, you know, bonding happens through play.

[00:18:18] Ali: But I see so many times on holiday, you know, uh, parents giving instructions to the children. You know, do these 25 meters, we’re gonna swim across the pool. And, you know, the kid doesn’t want that. They just want to enjoy themselves. So, um, that’s hard as a swimming teacher and, and as a swimming coach, because that’s the kind of background that I come from.

[00:18:36] Ali: Yeah. Um, my, my mom was great at that. You know, we, I remember, um, The topic here, but I remember going into, um, a swimming gallery in the harbour, in, in Cornwall, and we used to enter it every single year. And you know, it was a good thing for me and my sisters to do. We used to have fun and, um, she needed us to win.

[00:18:57] Ali: Every year we. Win those races and I was probably about 12 or 13 and I started to swim across and the water, for some reason, the water hit my chest and I had a bit of a, a panic attack and I was just kind of having asthma at that time. So, um, I started having a bit of a panic attack and asthma attack and my dad ran down the harbour wall to get the sage and ambulance and my mom’s going, finish the rest.

[00:19:19] Ali: You can do it. Oh yeah, competitive. Competitive. But she, but she came from a coaching background, so I kinda got the other way with my kids and said, you know, just have fun and, you know, play in the water. And, and that’s what you get. And the older they get, obviously, um, the, the you, they become more independent and, you know, it’s still hard.

[00:19:39] Ali: I mean, 18, nearly 19 and 16 and still, I don’t like to take my eyes off them in the water even though they, you know, regional and county swimmers. Um, it. Still got that, are they gonna be okay in water kind of thing. But, um, yeah, lots and lots of play. Don’t ever leave them alone. Um, you know, because inflatables or anything, you know, arm bands, it is not a replacement for, you know, parental supervision.

[00:20:03] Ali: Absolutely. And, and sadly, there are so many incidents in pools because you’ve just taken your eye off the child for a couple of minutes, um, you know, just had doze on the sun-bed kind of thing, and yeah, it’s, it’s not great at all. Mm-hmm. Um, Avoid inflatables in the sea. You know, they flip over so easily in the waves.

[00:20:22] Ali: And also, you know, again, supervising children by the, the, the shore. Um, because it doesn’t take long for that wave to come and, and knock them over. And, and a lot of children when they’re learning to swim, it’s something we focus on a lot is, is, um, learning to regain the feet. So, you know, it’s when there has been incidents, sadly, in pools and, and even in ponds.

[00:20:44] Ali: It’s not that the child hasn’t been able to swim, they’ve not been able to regain the feet. So it’s lifting the head and putting the feet down. Um, and it’s things like that that we teach the children. So, um, you know, making sure that the, the not near the waves and, you know, unsupervised, um, and, you know, going out on boats as well.

[00:21:01] Ali: It doesn’t matter how strong a chi, uh, a swimmer your child is, you know, that live jacket goes on. It doesn’t matter, you know, it, it’s things like that that we don’t think about. Um, And one, one of the big things, one of the big things which isn’t out there and people don’t know, but um, if your child is going swimming lessons and they’re used to kind of, you know, those sub immersions that a lot of, um, swim schools do, we don’t do forced submerges.

[00:21:25] Ali: We do, um, elective submerges. So we invite our child to go underwater and most of them are swimming under the water, but they’re doing it on their own. But if you are at swim school where you are doing those kind of sub immersions under the water, Under one year of age, you do not do it in the sea. Um, the kidneys of children under one year of age are not developed enough to handle salt.

[00:21:45] Ali: So also salt overdosing can lead to really serious illness. Um, And, and, and and beyond, unfortunately. So submersion in seawater shouldn’t be done with children under the age of one. Um, so we do see that occasionally, you know, that parent going, oh, let’s dive under the, the waves this, you know, nine month old.

[00:22:05] Ali: And you think, oh my goodness, apart from the fact that it looks shocking, it’s like, yeah. So that, that salt is, is not great as well. And you know, don’t worry about submergence, just let a child lead. Um, you know, because that’s what they want to do. They just wanna play. So, yeah. 

[00:22:21] Carla: Yeah. Oh gosh. That’s, that’s really, I, I had no idea about that actually.

[00:22:25] Carla: Not that I would do that, by the way. Yeah. But, um, yeah, but that’s the thing, especially dad’s just, you often say Dad’s just having a good bit of fun, don’t you? That’s the type of thing that you Yeah. You see sometimes.

[00:22:36] Ali: You know what, we, we’ve, we’ve got mum’s, dad’s, aunties, granny’s, you know, we’ve got everybody in the our lessons, child minders, and, um, the, the dads make me howl with laughter cuz they’re like, When are they gonna swim across the pool? Im like, they’re six months old. 

[00:22:52] Carla: Yeah. Yeah. Give them a chance. Give them a chance. I know, I know. I think it’s a natural thing. And I know what you mean. They do make me laugh as well. So, so, so you’ve touched on your lessons, puddle ducks lessons. Could you tell us a little bit more about what to expect from these lessons, if that’s okay?

[00:23:09] Ali: Yeah. So, um, what we pride ourselves on is that you can join us. Anytime, um, you don’t have to kind of wait for the start of the term. Um, all our teachers are really highly qualified, qualified to recognise where a child is at, um, not just age wise, but um, ability. So you, you know, we, the lessons kind of are ongoing and you can jump in at any time and they, you know, they will, uh, tailor their activities to your child.

[00:23:36] Ali: So we might have one activity, say where we’re swimming to and from the wall and doing some pushing off and, you know, learning to be independent, but there might be six or seven different stages. So we might have eight children, but they’re all at different stages. Um, so that individual, um, you know, lesson is, is really, really important within the, you know, everybody being there.

[00:23:56] Ali: It’s, it, it, it gives people reassurance that actually, oh, I’m joining, but somebody’s been doing this for six months. It doesn’t matter. Um, you know, and to see somebody who’s stood next to you with their child who’s independently turning, pushing up and swimming to the parent, you think, God, that that’s where I’m getting to.

[00:24:14] Ali: Um, but we start you kind of the very basics of it. So you know that, that’s really good. But yeah, any age at all coming through. Um, it doesn’t matter. Some parents feel they’ve missed the boat because they’ve not done the baby swimming classes. Um, we have a lot of people joining us at the age of two and going into what we call our little dippers classes, um, which is about confidence building.

[00:24:34] Ali: Um, you know, and we’ve got children from two to four in there. You know, some of them move coming in and kind of jumping out of that class into the next class because they’re really confident and some children that staying there a little bit longer and there’s no pressure to move out. Um, we follow, everything we do is at a child’s pace, and I think that’s really re really important.

[00:24:55] Ali: We teach our children, um, how to submerge, but we don’t physically shove them under the water when they’re not ready. It’s about inviting them to the water. It’s about teaching them signals. Um, it’s about mimicking. So the parents will do a lot of activities and the, the children will then copy them and, you know, we’ve got a teacher who, who works for us, who’s three week old baby when, um, Nikki put her face down in the water, her three week old baby went towards the water and put her face in. Oh, wow. So, you know. Yeah. So, and, and she continued to, you know, be confident like that and once they can see your confident and, you know, we do have a lot of nervous parents coming to us, and, and that’s absolutely fine.

[00:25:37] Ali: You know, we can work with them as well. It’s about building parents’ confidence up. It’s about building babies’, uh, confidence up as well. So yeah, so we go from birth all the way up to, um, 10 years of age. Um, and you go, you go through the first three programs, you move on, on age and after that you move on.

[00:25:54] Ali: Um, ability. And again, you know, just making sure the children stay together. Um, you know, at, at kind of that same level. Um, yeah, it’s just we do everything. We do songs, we do personal survival, we do lifesaving, um, You know, everything that you can think of is in those, um, is in the lessons. It’s jam packed.

[00:26:15] Ali: It’s, but we’ve also got those relaxing times within it where we give you that time to kind of practice an activity and consolidate it and bond with your little one. Um, Oh, it, it’s just amazing. It, it is the best thing in the world teaching those children and seeing them progress. And more importantly for me, seeing parental confidence because we do a lot of psychology kind of stuff as well within our lessons.

[00:26:41] Ali: Um, and we’ve been able to recognise. People who suffered from postnatal depression who may need that little bit more help and parents have opened up towards. Um, and I think that’s really important as well. It’s our teachers are not just qualified to teach, they’re qualified to look at child psychology, you know, uh, parental support that’s needed.

[00:27:02] Ali: It’s, it’s really holistic as well. And I think that’s, It’s welcoming environment for a parent. Um, you know, and they do open up to us. We end up being counsellors as well as swimming teachers. 

[00:27:12] Carla: That’s handy. Yeah. 2, 2, 2. At once. Yeah. No, that’s brilliant. No, that’s really, really good. I mean, that’s, especially when you said about the mental health, it’s recently been maternal mental health. A lot of people have been talking about that, haven’t they, recently? Yeah. Yeah. And it’s so important. A lot of people suffer. I mean, I did, uh, with my first son. Um, and, and I think having that support from you guys is just amazing. Yeah. I love that. 

[00:27:37] Ali: I, I, um, I’ve recently, um, stopped teaching at, um, one of, one of the pool cause I’m in the middle of a, a relocation, obviously not leaving puddle ducks, never leaving, but just moving, um, counties and I got such a wonderful card off one of my parents and she’d really struggled. Um, and um, I could see that she was struggling and I really focused on her. I didn’t focus on a baby and every week it was telling her how amazing she was and how. You know, how much confidence she was becoming and the letter that I got out of all the presents and, you know, the chocolates and, and the, the wine, the gin and the flowers, it was that card that meant the most to me because she thanked me for supporting her and giving her the confidence to not only, you know, enjoy swimming with her baby, but actually it was a transferable confidence because she became more confident at home and going to other clubs. And, and that meant more to me than anything else because that’s what we’re there for. Not just teaching the kids to swim. We, we, we are bringing everything in there and supporting parents is so, it’s, it’s just so important.

[00:28:42] Carla: Yeah. Well they do say happy, happy parents. Happy baby, don’t they? So, and I really believe that. Um, so finally, Um, could we talk a little bit about the franchise opportunities that you guys have? I know obviously you guys listening will have heard of Puddle Ducks, I’m sure of it. Um, and you’ve got franchisees all over the place, but you must have some availability as well.

[00:29:05] Carla: So could you share a little bit more about what it’s like to work for you? 

[00:29:09] Ali: Yeah, I, I mean, God, it, it’s perfect. It is the best job. It’s, you know, you your own boss. It’s, people think we are local if you just go into those local lessons. But yeah, we are nationwide, but we do have gaps, like you say. So, you know, we’re always looking for that next franchisee to join the, the Puddle Ducks family.

[00:29:26] Ali: Um, so yeah. Perfect solution for people who want to be their own boss. Um, we’ve got a proven model, you know, it’s a trusted and established brand. Um, and we’ve got a network of experts, you know, every area of the business, you know, from, uh, franchise support, from finance, marketing, obviously the technical, the lessons side, even the retail side.

[00:29:45] Ali: Um, you know, we’ve got those experts at head, head office, and experts within the franchising team as well. Um, Which is obviously really important and the franchisees come from so many different backgrounds as well. It’s really interesting when you, you see them and you speak to them and find out, you know, where they’ve come from.

[00:30:02] Ali: But all of them have that passion for swimming, for the passion, for helping somebody, helping families. Um, and, and they also the ambition to succeed. And, you know, I’ve got that entrepreneur entrepreneurial spirit about them as well. Um, so, you know, it, it’s hard. The first few years are hard work. Um, but if you follow in that, Proven model, you’re gonna reap those rewards, um, you know, financially as well as having control over your own time and you know that being able to be your own boss, but, and being able to still go to school to watch those plays and do the school drop off and everything.

[00:30:37] Ali: And that’s what the franchisees love. They work hard, they really work hard, but they work around their family. And that’s what a lot of people want. Um, so yeah, we, we’ve, um, we’ve got a great model. Our vision has changed slightly in that we are hoping that we have, um, managed our own pool in every territory by 2027.

[00:30:57] Ali: And we’re doing really well with that. Um, But yeah, it, it’s, it’s great. You know, we, we want people to come and join us and, you know, there’s, there’s case studies on our website. Um, you know, we invite you to come in and chat to us. Um, you know, we’ve got an excellent franchise manager who, um, guide you through the whole process.

[00:31:16] Ali: Um, and you, you are supported all the way. So, um, yeah. Fabulous opportunity to join us. 

[00:31:23] Carla: That’s great. And do you need to have any swimming qualifications or anything like that to join you? 

[00:31:27] Ali: No.

[00:31:28] Carla: Wow, that’s amazing. 

[00:31:29] Ali: Yeah, everything is, is provided. There’s, we use the Swimming Teachers Association, which is um, you know, is worldwide.

[00:31:37] Ali: Um, um, It’s the national, it’s one of the national government bodies for swimming, but it’s, it’s a worldwide swimming organization. They provide, uh, the external training. We have internal, uh, technical training. So we have our, our own puddle ducks teach training courses. Um, you know, we’ve got business training, marketing training, finance training.

[00:31:55] Ali: We need somebody who’s you know, who’s got that kind professional background, who’s willing to put the hard work in, who wants to succeed, um, you know, and yeah, is, is, is gonna fit with us. And, um, and who loves swimming. Even if you decide to, you don’t need to be a swimming teacher if you wanna buy a franchise and launch it, but not teach yourself.

[00:32:17] Ali: You can bring those teachers in. Um, so you don’t necessarily have to teach as well. You know, we’ve had a couple of franchisees who have not gone through the teacher training. They launched their business, but they brought teachers in. They wanna focus fully on the, the, um, the business side of things. So there’s, there’s, you know, you don’t have to have a bus, uh, a swimming background.

[00:32:36] Carla: That’s brilliant. 

[00:32:37] Ali: Yeah. Some don’t wanna get their hair wet. 

[00:32:39] Carla: Yeah. Oh wow. That’s, I could be like that. Yeah, yeah. No, that sounds so good. Um, it sounds really good, like you said that then, you know, if they do choose to move forward with the franchise, they can focus on the area that they enjoy, can’t they?

[00:32:52] Carla: Because there’s so many, so many different parts to it. That’s amazing. So, um, where would someone go if they want more information about, firstly, your classes and secondly, the franchise opportunities? 

[00:33:03] Ali: So if you go to our website, which is, you’ll find everything on there. I will, I will say that, um, Claire Mills is our franchise manager who, um, starts kind of that process answers those initial questions.

[00:33:16] Ali: So you can contact Claire on Um, but everything you need is on our website. We’ve got case studies on there. We’ve got videos of our lessons. We’ve got, you know, absolutely everything that you, you need is, is on there anyway. Um, but yeah, pick up the phone, you know, email Claire and um, yeah, get that introduction and, and come along to a discovery day and discover what it’s all about.

[00:33:40] Ali: Um, but it is just the best job in the world. It really, really is. 

[00:33:45] Carla: You’re making me want to work there now, Ali, I know it sounds, it sounds amazing. So thank you so much. And what we’ll do is we’ll put all of those links that Ali shared at the bottom, um, of this podcast episode. So you can easily just click those and find your way around the website.

[00:34:02] Carla: So thank you so much for being our guest today. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you. 

[00:34:06] Ali: Thank you very much.

[00:34:14] Ali: You can find your nearest baby swimming provider in My Bump 2 Baby’s directory. Just head on over to to find your nearest baby swimming lessons. Are you looking for pregnancy to preschool groups, classes, and lessons? For you and your family. If you are, then head on over to and join over 200,000 parents using our website each and every month.

[00:34:55] Ali: We also work with trusted financial advisors, family loss solicitors, and now estate agents too. If you would like to find your nearest trusted expert, head over to

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