Email subscription

Enter your email below and you will be updated automatically whenever a new blog post is published

Subscribe to new posts by email

Friday, 26 May 2017

Come on in … it’s hot and the water’s great

I grew up in South Africa and Australia so I LOVE the combination of sunshine and water as there’s no better place to be. But …Hot weather + bank holiday + half term + exam study leave = DANGER

Tragically last night a 16 year old drowned in the Lee Valley, Chester and I’m always so upset when I read of things like this and my thoughts are very much with his family and friends. Unfortunately drowning in the UK accounts for more accidental fatalities annually than fire deaths in the home or cycling deaths on the road.

On average 400 people in the UK die from drowning annually.

The ages most at risk are:
  • Young children through being left unattended.
  • Youths and teens due to risk taking, peer pressure and alcohol.

  • 2 out of 3 casualties happen in open water…and male youths and teens are the MOST at risk.
  • Sadly, 45% of children aged 7-11 cannot swim 25m unaided (1 length).
  • Drowning has multiple causes and factors but DROWNING IS PREVENTABLE
  • TRAIN your young children now that swimming = sunscreen and a cozzie. It can give you the vital pre-warning “heads up” that your child intends to get into the paddling pool or any kind of water.
  • TRAIN them to NEVER enter water WITHOUT an adult
  • NEVER swim alone
  • ALWAYS swim where lifeguards are present.
  • LEARN to swim

Water Safety at Home:
  • EMPTY paddling pools/swimming pools of ALL toys as they are temptations children simply can’t resist.
  • EMPTY paddling pools after EACH use and put upside down in event of rain.
  • ALWAYS cover swimming pools, shut the gate, set alarm.

Water Safety on Holiday

A vast number of drownings occur in the first couple of hours as parents are distracted by unpacking or relaxing after the journey – be VIGILANT.
  • ALWAYS teach children swim with an adult
  • ALWAYS swim with your child one arms reach away.
  • NEVER leave a child unattended even if using a buoyancy aid. Rubber sit-in rings can be lethal as if a young child loses balance and ends up head first in water they DO NOT have sufficient core strength to right themselves.
  • ALCOHOL and water do not mix…don’t drink and swim, EVER
  • WATER SAFETY at the beach
  • ONLY swim between the flags
  • ONLY swim where lifeguards on duty
  • NEVER swim at sunset or sunrise as that is when sea “creatures” come to feed (not on you! But we’re easy pickings!!)
  • NOTE tide times
  • LEARN what the various flags mean,
  • ASK where rip currents are
  • AVOID swimming near piers, breakwater, coral, rocks.
  • Swim PARALLEL to the beach and close to shore
  • Inflatables can easily get blown out to sea  - stay close to shoreline and NEVER unattended. 

Water Safety in open water

Open water poses significant risk to young youths and teenagers.

Whilst open water looks so inviting, it poses a major danger. The water IS COLD and there are always fast flowing, invisible currents.

There are several invisible hazards – submerged shopping trolleys, bicycles, discarded fishing lines, knotted snagged fishing nets, unstable banks and reeds.

The vast majority of rural/non city emergency rescue services DO NOT have qualified open water rescuers and therefore they can not enter the water so have to call out specialist water rescue teams who come from much further away and can take a long time.

A lot of river ways and lakes do have signs posted which detail the GPS location to enable emergency services to find you – look out for these.

COLD WATER SHOCK is a major factor in open water drownings. (Most susceptible are males aged 18-29 years)

Signs of cold-water shock are:
  • 0-3mins (initial immersion): gasping, hyperventilation, blood flow is restricted and panic,
  • Short-term response/loss of performance (within 3 – 30 mins): Blood flow restriction continues to protect our major organs resulting in the loss of use to hands, feet and limbs. This results in a reduced ability to swim and our ability climb out to safety.
  • After 30 minutes – hypothermia caused by loss of core body temperature causes loss of consciousness.

Puggles Swim School Ltd is committed to helping to prevent accidental drownings through awareness and supports the national drive to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2026.

As Puggles only teaches children aged 0-4 years we work on raising awareness in the parents/care givers and obviously NO child in these age groups are EVER water safe or drown-proof.

Puggles supports “National Drowning Prevention Week” 16-26 June and all current swimming lessons will specifically focus on this.

Puggles supports the belief that every child should have the opportunity to learn to swim and will be offering FREE taster lessons for the week of 10-16th June as part of the “National Learn to Swim” week – please get in touch. This is open to all children aged 7– 11 years who have never had lessons before.

Puggles runs 3 FREE swimming lessons to adults who are terrified of water – so please get in touch.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Swimming in the Sunshine!

After what has seemed like an eternity we finally saw the sun! Away with coats, hats and gloves and in with sunscreen and shades! The parks are full of children playing and all seems well in our small corner of the world! My family and I spent a gorgeous couple of hours at the river in Ely having a picnic and just enjoying watching the world float by. There's just something wonderful about being close to the water - it moves, it's "alive" and we all feel an affinity to be close by, if not in it! There is endless research proving how we as human beings function at a higher level when in close proximity to water but you don't need science to prove that - it's something we all know, something we feel.

We don't often get the opportunity to enjoy the al-fresco swimming experience in the UK but from the beginning of next term (April 24th onwards) we hope to open up all the sides of the lovely pool in Little Thetford to give that Mediterranean-spa feel. For Grandma and Grandpa who want to watch their little ones in the pool there is a lovely outside area and fresh coffee to boot!

Enrolments are open for the term beginning April 24th at so come along and enjoy the sunshine!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Timetable Meltdown!

You wouldn't think that putting together a timetable for a swimming school is that complicated. We have a set number of children who fit into a set number of age brackets and we have a set number of pool hours. Even someone with a cursory understanding of the laws of mathematics such as me should be able to divide X children into Y classes. But sad though it is to admit it, as I stare into the abyss of the task before me I realise I am paralysed by the sheer complexity of it all. Parents like to keep their times and days consistent from term to term, but the children are growing up and so they naturally move up into new age group classes. Some mums are going back to work, or have had another child, or nursery days have changed - and they need to be accommodated too. Puggles has always offered a tailored service and never advocates rolling enrolments, because children progress so much more effectively together, feeling comfortable with each other, being of similar capability in the pool environment and forming trusted bonds. So how on earth do I keep all parents happy, allow for new children to join and keep my sanity all at the same time?

Enter stage left my long suffering swimming widow, problem solver, web designer and general dogsbody husband who amongst other things happens to have a degree in Maths from a posh university. Let him sort it. Five hours later he is looking somewhat worse for wear, has lost even more of his hairline and is surrounded by piles of paper, post it notes and varied scribblings. "This is a lot more difficult than you'd think". No shit Sherlock.

I love love love all the kids who come to Puggles and I care deeply that they are learning the right things about swimming, water safety and how to love being in the water - doing everything at their own pace feeling 100% comfortable in the water. I never force submersions and always take cues from the child. So the task for hubby was clear - given all this, just make it work. And true to nature he has come up with what I think is a solution.

Enrolments will be run in separate phases to allow clients to secure their places in classes on the day they prefer.

Phase 1 – priority is given to all swimmers enrolling on the same day. Obviously as children keep getting older, some of them will naturally move up into the older time slot, which may not be at the same time as the class in the previous term. Any child who is within 1 month of the age group will be able to enrol into that class - e.g. A child who is 11 months old at the beginning of term will be able to join a 12-18 month class.

Phase 2 – if you want to change the day of your lessons then you will be able to if there are spaces left once Phase 1 is complete.

Phase 3 – all available spaces left will be offered to the growing list of people on the waiting list.

Phase 4 - brand new classes for total beginners in all groups - obviously not relevant for anyone  who has had at least one term swimming with Puggles.

All aquanatal yoga mums-to-be are also guaranteed a space in the newborn flotation classes, which are completely gorgeous and a fabulous way for both mum and dad to bond with baby.

Another challenge is that as all the children get older the age groupings adjust, so right now we have a lot of children in the 12-18 months bracket but as those children get older and as new children join, we may see a shift in the number of classes available.

When I first started Puggles I originally thought that by the age of four, Puggles kids would be moving to independent lessons. What I'm actually seeing is that for the kids who started with me as babies, when they get to about two and half years they are able to move up. As such the number of classes for the older age groups is diminishing, but of course I try to put on classes for beginners in those age groups.

I know that I can't please all the people all the time and so inevitably I will upset some people and for that I am truly sorry. But as always, I genuinely value the loyalty and trust all the parents put in Puggles and I am committed to providing a very high quality offering :  bespoke lessons in small class sizes, with kids of similar ability.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Pregnant? Feeling heavy? Aquanatal yoga to the rescue!

When you're pregnant there are few things better than being able to take a load off and get some rest and relaxation. How long has it been since you slept on your stomach? So why not treat yourself and spend an hour in this gorgeous, warm pool, heated to 34 degrees, a constant depth of 1.2m throughout. Relax and unwind in this small corner of paradise, enjoying all the benefits of aquanatal yoga from a qualified instructor.

Aquanatal yoga is such a wonderful, effective and gentle form of exercise for pregnant women, no matter what your level of fitness might be. Just being in the warm soothing water provides you with an easy way to achieve deep relaxation, while at the same time encouraging you to experience positive feelings. Aquanatal yoga is a fantastic experience, allowing you to exercise while being supported by the water and to improve your overall well-being to help you return to your full fitness following your baby's arrival. Aquanatal yoga is a safe workout where you can be with other mums-to-be enjoying this precious bonding time with your bumps!

Why not come along and try it out for yourself? Visit

Saturday, 10 September 2016

New Term, New Classes!

Sadly the summer is almost over but I’m happy to say that term has started with a wonderful flourish! The first week of classes has been fantastic with all of my previous kids remembering me, doing so well and have come on really well over the break. We have also had some new faces joining our happy community of Puggles swimmers and they all had a lovely time in the gorgeous warm water of our pools in Ely and Little Thetford.

I’m getting very excited about this term because soon I will be opening classes for newborn babies and pregnant mums, offering aquanatal sessions. The classes will be on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons and will be on a drop-in basis, and soon you will be able to book multiple sessions online at my website

Also later this term I will be opening the pool for an underwater photography session. There will be a chance for you all to come along and get some lovely photographs of your beautiful babies!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

New pool opening summer 2016!

I'm delighted to be able to announce Puggles Swim School is now offering more classes at a new pool in Little Thetford, just a short distance south of Ely. The pool is purpose built, comes with both male and female changing rooms and has ample parking. This new pool is beautiful and comes in a purpose-built climate-controlled building, which during the summer can be opened up so that we get that outdoor pool experience. The pool is a fixed 1.2m deep and is kept at a steady 32 degrees, so it's perfect for our little swimmers. Initially classes will be held on Saturdays only but I am hoping to expand this from September 2016 to other days. 

Here are some photos:

As well as having a new pool we will also be taking on new teachers who I know you will love and who follow the Puggles philosophy, based on the Birthlight approach.

For more information please visit my website

Monday, 9 November 2015

“Aquaphobic? Adults get your training wheels.”

“people wish to learn to swim and at the same time keep one foot on the ground” 
- Marcel Proust.

Have you always wanted to learn how to swim but are simply too terrified to try?  Maybe you had a traumatic experience with water previously and this has prevented you from getting in the water again?

If you want to know how to swim, you have to overcome your fear of water first before even attempting swimming lessons.

From November, Puggles will be offering 3 FREE lessons to adults who are terrified of water but who yearn to be able to swim. 3 free ½ hour lessons on Mondays in Ely will be offered to 3 adults at a time, on a first-come-first-served basis.  I will be with you in the water, gently helping you to learn to trust the water and control your own body so you feel more comfortable.  I really hope that after these 3 lessons you will feel more confident about attending adult learn-to-swim classes at a pool near you.

If you’re interested please visit my web site and send me a message via the "Contact" page. Follow my blog with Bloglovin