Swimming at Shrewsbury continues to go from strength to strength with the provision in the Early Years continuing throughout the year groups fostering an interest in the sport that is gaining even more traction, every year. With an experienced team dedicated to safety as well as performance, the team headed by Ms Vicki Gill are striving for Shrewsbury to be the best aquatics outfit in Thailand.
Why is swimming an essential part of the curriculum, and how do we prepare younger students to be confident swimmers?
The swim program at Shrewsbury International School is enjoyed by students from EY1 onwards and designed around the Swim England 'Learn to Swim' Pathway. This is the leading national teaching syllabus for delivering safe, inclusive and effective swimming lessons for all ages within the UK. The structured and progressive content is based on a games-led approach to ensure children enjoy learning. The program not only teaches swimmers to swim using the four competitive strokes, but it also gives them several other skills. Learning this way gives them the ability to undertake a wide range of water-based sports. Students at Shrewsbury learn swimming, water polo, artistic swimming and personal survival skills in their physical education lessons at school. In addition, there are over 350 swimmers who are part of the You-Time swimming program and Swim Team.
At what age do you identify potential talents and what provision do you have in place to harness their abilities?
Swimmers can enter the program from You-Time in Year 1, and we have many talented swimmers within our program, many of whom have swum with the team for ten years. With the exception of a few, most swim meets are open to all swimmers who meet the minimum age entry requirements.
At Shrewsbury and in Bangkok, what kinds of competition can students be involved in?
For our younger swimmers, swim meets tend to focus on 25m events, and as the athletes mature, we focus on longer distance events. We compete in Bangkok as part of the BISAC conference and within Asia as part of FOBISIA, which allows us to gauge how well we are performing against the best in the region. We are lucky to have excellent facilities on site; Shrewsbury hosted the first FOBISIA swimming competition back in 2015 as well. Swimming is extremely popular in Bangkok, with many competitors and families attending events.
You have quite an extensive support staff, what are the duties/roles of the swim staff?
We have six full-time swim coaches, two full-time lifeguards and four part-time swim coaches - all of whom are a part of the You-Time swimming program. Our coaches are fundamental to the success and popularity of the program, and they are a truly talented bunch! Coach Best is current Thailand 50m and 100m Backstroke record holder and Coach Ploy holds the Thailand 200m Butterfly Record. We are also blessed to have Coach Big who has won five gold medals at the SEA Masters Games 2019 and was also Thailand's Assistant Paralympic Games 2016 Coach. Then we also have Southern Regional 100 and 200 Butterfly record holder, Coach Parin and SEA University Games record holder, Coach Muay. Students are fortunate to have this level of expertise!
What about you? What is your background in teaching and swimming?
I have been at Shrewsbury for ten years. Before that, I was the swimming development officer for London and Bath. I have also been an Aquatics lecturer at Leeds Beckett University on the BSc courses and Primary & PE teacher training degrees. Before that, I was the head coach of the City of Leeds Central Squad. In total, I have been teaching and coaching ‘learn to swim’ for 24 years.
How are Shrewsbury students tracking in competitions over the last year despite the COVID-19 interruptions?
We are incredibly lucky that swimming competitions are able to take place, under new guidance. Our swimmers have embraced these new competitive conditions well. Shrewsbury recently placed 2nd at the recent Bangkok Prep Puppy Cup swim meet for our younger athletes. Last academic year, Shrewsbury swimmers were the top under-8 team at the ISB SwimFest, winners of the Bangkok Patana Summer Sizzler average points team trophy, and the 3rd Placed team at St Andrew's Marlin Mayhem meet.
What competitions are on the horizon, this school year?
Shrewsbury will be attending the upcoming Christmas Cracker Swim Meet, hosted by Bangkok Patana on December the 12th and 13th and in the new year, we have a growing calendar of events already.
The lifeguard training is unique to Shrewsbury – can you speak about the qualifications our staff have?
All of our poolside staff hold their UK Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS) National Pool Lifeguard Qualification. This is the UK gold standard qualification which meets the requirements for poolside safety. We are the only school to demand that all of our swim staff attain this level of accreditation as we believe that safety is paramount in the pool. I am a proud National Trainer Assessor for the RLSS, which means I can train and qualify lifeguards.