Diving.DE, El Quseir, Egypt: On 12th to 18 June 2016, the training for Swim Teachers and Swim Teacher Trainers under the SSI system was held in Egypt yet again.
SSI? Scuba Schools International? What do dive instructors have to do with swim training?
A legitimate question. But the three letters "SSI" not only represent one of the largest diving organisations but also to the swim programme offered by the same association ‒ Swim Schools International.
For more than a decade, this award-winning programme has been in existence in the United States. This year, at BOOT in Dusseldorf, the programme was introduced to the European and international market. Since then, classes have been run to train members to become Swim Teachers and Swim Teacher Trainers in Cyprus and the Maldives, and for the second time, in Egypt, at diving.DE.
We speak with Michael Schroeder, SSI International Training Director and Mirko Obermann, co-owner at diving.DE.
Taucher.Net (TN): Michael, please describe the swimming programme at SSI in a few words.
Michael Schroeder (MS): SSI has years of experience in dive training and the issuance of diving certifications. This vast experience is now being used to train new swim instructors at the highest possible level of preparation and competence.
Our Swim Teachers learn the theory at home, and then they are trained in the pool by our team of experienced Swim Teacher Trainers. Before they are certified, they will be supervised under our mentor teachers.
Safety and uniformity of instruction for the students are the key. The lesson plans depend on the students’ age, their level of knowledge and their individual learning speed. There is no fixed time frame which students have to complete the course.
The size of the swimming classes at level 1 is very small, so all participants receive lots of personal time with the coach. Once they possess the necessary skills, they can move up to the next level which assigns four students to one Swim Teacher.
The Baby & Me classes last for 45 minutes to give the little ones and their parents time to be comfortable in the water and to have some bonding time together. (More information about bonding can be found at: www.babycentre.co.uk/a658/bonding-after-birth).
The Level 2 classes are at least 45 minutes and students in the Junior Olympian classes may even train up to an hour so as to have sufficient time for training, and to allow for a full training cycle with a warm-up and cool-down phase.
Adult non-swimmers can choose to learn in separate classes, in case they have a fear of the water. Eventually, they will learn to be safe swimmers with full confidence in their abilities.
TN: Mirko, how did you and diving.DE come to be among the first to offer the new swim programme?
Mirko Obermann (MO): I have known Michael since my early days at SSI. At "boot-show" in Düsseldorf in January, when he introduced me to the SSI swim programme, I was immediately convinced that it would be perfect for us.
In our experience, we have seen it time and again: families are on holiday but their children cannot swim because they have not yet learnt how to. In Europe, many parents work, and do not have time to drive their children to the swim school. Taking a weekly 12-unit swim course takes 12 weeks to complete; at a resort, you can complete the course in just one week!
As a dive centre, we have unlimited access to swimming pools at our facilities, so it is natural that we offer swimming lessons in addition to snorkelling and apnea courses.
TN: Mirko, you're now a new Swim Teacher Trainer. What do you like most about the programme?
MO: The great advantage about the SSI Swim Programme is that we can offer suitable classes for people regardless of the skills they already possess. There are seventeen different classes catering to the youngest at age two months to those who are adults. Students learn together in small groups based on their age and skill level.
As a former club swimmer and diver, I really like the relaxed training atmosphere. In the swim clubs I was with several years ago, things were a bit stiff.
TN: Michael, who can qualify to be trained as a SSI Swim Trainer and Swim Teacher? What qualifications are required?
MS: Of course, to be a Swim Teacher, you should know how to swim. However, you don't need to be a competitive swimmer.
From the age of 16, you can train to be a Swim Teacher for Level 1 ‒ the only requirement is to have a Certificate of Good Conduct. The requirements of the other courses depend on the level. As for the Baby & Me class, it can be done as a standalone course without the other Swim Teacher qualifications.
For those who want to be a Swim Teacher Trainer, they must finish all the four Swim Teacher Levels and be at least 18 years old.
TN: How long does it take to become a Swim Teacher or Swim Teacher Trainer?
MS: The programme for Swim Teacher Level 1 is 20 to 24 hours. For Level 2, it is another 20 to 24 hours, comprising a practical presentation of all the swimming styles ‒ freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and dolphin. Those who aspire to train adults require a further six to eight hours of training, and the same goes for the Baby & Me Swim Teacher course as well. Anyone who wants to become a manager and be qualified to train Swim Teachers for their swim school would need 24 to 32 hours more of training.
TN: Mirko, when will your centres start to offer the SSI swim programmes?
MO: The Swim Program we offer this summer are currently available at two of our centres in Egypt: diving.DE Akassia and diving.DE Flamenco. We will progressively train more staff so that our dive centres in the Red Sea would be able to offer swim classes over the summer. Our plans are for our dive centres in Austria, Croatia and Indonesia to offer this service this coming summer. Who knows, we may even open a swim school in Germany one day!
Information SSI: www.divessi.com/ and www.swimschoolsinternational.com
Information diving.DE: www.diving.de