Interview with a Swimming School Owner

This week’s Women at Work interview is with Lee-Anne McQueen, a Swimming Instructor and co-owner of Splash Swimming School in Wynberg, Cape Town.

What is your current job?

Owner/manager of Splash Swimming, a swim school for children and adults in Wynberg.

How did you end up in your current position?

When I was 23 I’d just returned from a couple of years working and travelling overseas, and was teaching swimming as what I thought would be an interim job while I was studying a BA through UNISA. The swim school I was working at was very badly run and I asked the owner if I could manage the admin for him because it was driving me crazy! He thought about it and made my husband and I an offer to take over ownership of the business and rent his pool from him. 9 years later I’ve made many changes, but I’m running a thriving swim school!

When did you know this is what you wanted to do?

Once I started getting to grips with the need for quality swimming tuition, quality teacher training and quality education of parents and children about how important swimming is as a life-skill and how fulfilling it can be as a sport, I became very passionate about growing Splash into more than just another swim school. When I realised how much potential there is to do great things and to have a very fulfilling ‘career’ in swimming, changing the lives of swimmers and of the teachers who I’ve trained, I decided that this was where I belonged.

What did you study – was it in this field or something different?

I didn’t finish my BA in communication science!

What’s the best part of your job? And the worst/ most challenging part?

There’s much to love about my job! Teaching children and adults such an essential skill is incredibly rewarding. Coming up with new methods and ideas is always exciting, but perhaps the most rewarding of all is when I’ve been monitoring and training a swimming teacher for a while and I see them start to come into their own and really ‘get it’. Their kids start to make huge strides in their progress, and parents start asking for that teacher by name – that’s when I really know that I’ve made a difference to that teacher and to all the hundreds or even thousands of children they’re likely to teach.

The most challenging part has definitely been selecting and recruiting the wrong staff. Anyone can learn the basics of how to teach swimming, but if you can’t connect with children on their level, you don’t belong in teaching. Selecting teachers based on their qualifications or experience or out of desperation to fill a position rather than on my gut feel has been a big learning curve for me, but I’m happy to say that at this point in time I have an incredible team of teachers who are just as passionate about what they do as I am.

Who would be your “dream” job, or are you doing it?

I think this is just about it!

What do you still want to achieve in this position or another?

I would like to get more involved in teacher training and to do more to empower school teachers to bring swimming into their curriculum so that children who don’t have access to private swimming lessons can still learn about water safety and basic swimming skills – that’s where I’m headed at the moment.

What is your typical day?

After dropping my 3 year old at school, I go in to the office to check emails, see to some admin tasks, do some planning, work on current projects, etc. I’m alone in the office which gives me time to get a lot done until my staff come in at around 12pm and we discuss anything they may need to know about their schedule for the day. Once things are running smoothly and everyone is happy I usually leave work at around 2pm and fetch my son from school. Most evenings I’ll work at home on my laptop from about 7:30pm to 9:30pm. I still teach swimming lessons once a week on a Monday which helps me to keep in touch with the teachers and parents.

Thanks so much Lee-Anne for featuring in my Women at Work series. It is so exciting to hear from women who have found work that “works” for them and to hear their stories and see their passion for what they do! Congratulations on all your success with Splash and I hope it continues to be a swimming school that stands out!

The aim of this series is to introduce women to a variety of interesting careers. This is in order to inspire women of all ages to aspire to a career (either full or part time) which they LOVE, especially teens, university leavers and moms who have been raising kids and have been out of the job world for a while!!

If you, or a woman you know, has an interesting job and would be happy to be an interviewee please do contact me.

images: Splash

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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