Amy West-Hurst of Water Babies
AMY West-Hurst can't remember a time when water didn't play a part in her life. Born in Waterford, her childhood summers were spent pottering about on the beach near her Granny's house. Then the sailing bug bit her - and her life changed for ever. When she met her husband, Charlie, one sailing weekend in Bangor, she ended up staying for six weeks - then returned home, packed her bags and moved straight back. A career in direct marketing didn't fulfill her aquatic aspirations, so she turned her attention to teaching mainstream swimming. It was when she started looking for classes for her baby daughter, Zoe that she discovered Water Babies - and as there were no classes locally, decided to look into running them herself and now takes classes in Lisburn.
When I have a class I will arrive at the location with the car full of equipment. I then unpack it all and set up at the pool and wait for the parents and their children to arrive. I firmly believe swimming is a life skill that everybody is entitled to and just love how much babies adore swimming. My daughter is a true water baby - my husband can't believe how confident and happy she already is in the water.
I recommend parents start their baby swimming as early as possible
because the younger the baby is, the happier they'll be in the water.
Parents are often worried that they can't take their infant to the pool
until they have had all their jabs, but as long as they weren't born
premature and there are no other medical concerns, this is not the case
and I have lots of young babies in my classes. They
lust love it so much.
Each lesson lasts half an hour and it really goes by so quickly. The
Water Babies course is different to traditional swimming lessons as it
involves the parent acting as support for their children in the water
without flotation aids, deepening the bond of trust between parent and
child as well as being
great fun. To become an instructor with Water Babies you have to undergo rigorous training so parents can be assured that their children are in safe hands and being taught by fully trained professionals.
The methods I use enable babies to feel at ease swimming both above
and below the water's
surface, and as they've spent nine months in the womb, babies generally love the sensation of floating in warm water.
I do a warm up and teach with word recognition, using swim cards to
provide visual cues and toys too. It really is a fun experience as well
as a serious one as the children are being taught to save themselves if
they get into difficulty - skills such as turning onto their backs or,
following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object.
Over the weeks I teach the children how to
hold their breath under water, progressing a bit further each week until the child has the skills to potentially save itself from drowning. Several children are alive to days thanks to the skills they learnt at Water Babies. I had been wondering what I was going to do after having Zoe and was thinking about trying to become my own boss. Water Babies appealed to me as a new mother and I was really impressed with the company after speaking to the franchise owners there was a gap in our local market for the business I decided to buy and set up a franchise and it has gone from strength to strength. The Water Babies franchise has proven extremely popular, it's already expanding as a result of demand for the lessons. It has been trading well and I think there is real potential to expand this franchise right across Northern Ireland. It is hard work but it's so good and I love it and I just can't do enough of it. When you see so many smiley faces it just feels great.