Swimming Coach and The Transplant Games

 Ron Spriggs, Swimming Coach and Living Legend.

I want to introduce a Swimming Coach who taught me most of what I know about swimming in water and teaching/coaching others. Ron Spriggs (Spriggsy) employed me on the pool deck of the Wingham Memorial Swimming Pool when I was 14. That was 36 years ago. He had and still has the ‘gift of the gab’, always called a ‘spade a spade’ and delighted in kids achievements, in and out of the pool. He taught me how to communicate with kids in a manner which allows me to get them to do what is needed, especially around changing their stroke. Spriggsy was a swimming coach with a difference he impressed upon me that you can never know what a child can do in the water and that they should not be pigeon-holed. One may be a natural breaststroker and the other a butter-flyer……just ask them to have a go and see what happens.

Spriggsy firmly believes “that swimming is not an end, but a means to an end. It helps prepare children and young people for future challenges in life.”

Spriggsy had a heart transplant 5 years ago. Admittedly he struggled during the recovery months and is continually monitored and/or travelling to Sydney for check-ups. He is back swimming himself and at last count was happily doing 1km most days.

He recently entered the Transplant Games. I never knew that such an event was held. This year it was in Sydney. Spriggsy had said that all sorts of transplant recipients can enter and there are certain events for the various recipients. I have been in awe of these people since learning about the Transplant Games.

If you have a lazy few minutes look the event up. You will be inspired and as I have been. Having a friend with a new heart and being privy to only some of his trials and tribulations gives me a better appreciation of the ease with which I go through life.

Check out the local hero’s in the Transplant Games.



ron spriggs swim coach transplant games

Learning to swim – What it feels like for a kid

Kids swimming lessons, what does it actually feel like for a kid who is learning to swim.

Kids’ bodies and physical abilities, sensory experiences, feelings, motivations, and perceptions of success all differ from those of adults, and they all affect how kids learn to swim. When we are teaching your kids to swim, take the time to put yourself in their shoes.

Let’s just IMAGINE for a little bit! We may have forgotten how to do this but let’s give it a try today.

Imagine that your head is large compared to the rest of your body. How does that feel when you’re trying to float or balance in the water?

Imagine that your limbs are short compared to your torso. How do you move through the water with limited leverage?

Imagine that your lung capacity is a lot smaller than a grownup’s. Does that make figuring out how to deal with your breath while you’re swimming more complicated?

Imagine that you’ve got not much mass, a lot of skin relative to that mass, and low body fat. Can you feel how fast your body loses heat to the water?

Can you feel how much less buoyant you are than an adult, thanks to your tiny bit of fat and small internal air flotation devices (aka lungs)? Wow, it’s not easy to figure out how to float! Big old head, not a lot of buoyancy.

Plus, your body is changing every single day. All that growing is exhausting! And you haven’t learned yet to predict when you’ll reach the end of your rope or to read the signs that tell you you’re getting cranky because you’re tired. You’re always surprised when you hit the exhaustion wall without warning. Every time.

Now move back into your own shoes! What a relief. Remind yourself that when we are teaching your kids to swim, their little bodies give them some extra challenges when it comes to learning to swim. Every child’s body is different and therefore slightly different challenges for them and the teacher during kids swimming lessons.

The better we, as teachers and you as their parents, understand what your kids are experiencing, the easier and more effective the process of teaching them to swim will be. Children are different than adults. (Surprise!) Understanding their differences will help us all put ourselves in your child’s place and try to respond to their needs. Responding to your child’s needs will help to make the learning process fun and effective for all of us.


Our qualified instructors provide kids swimming lessons weekly and on Saturday morning’s in the heart of the Byron Shire at our swim facility at Billinudgel.

We also have kids swimming intensives during the school holidays.

Contact Ruth on 02 6680 1614 for more information

learning to swim with tamara


Australian swimmers raised in country areas



Australian Swimmers are known for their competitiveness and tenacity in the water.

Our Australian swimmers have had some great successes and also some unexpected losses this Rio Olympics. Behind the scenes coaching methods, funding, training regimes and when to peak at what event all get scrutinised. Because we apparently came up short swimming Australia will be busy reflecting and instigating changes.

My blog this month picks a few Australian swimmers and tells a simple story that many  of our olympics swimmers come from regional areas and have been successful through hard work and good mentoring.

The Olympics have been great to watch. Perhaps not Australia’s greatest Olympics in the pool but still we got to see some great swimming!

I want to reflect on some of these Australian swimmers we have been watching. So many of them are born and reared in country areas. I have always been a passionate advocate for ‘country kids’ having the opportunities our ‘city cousins’ have and our country born swimmers need a mention.

Jarod Poort, the 10km Open Water Marathon swimmer learnt to swim in the family farm dam in Bowral.

James Magnussen was born in Port Macquarie and did most of his formative swimming training in Port Macquarie.

Kyle Chalmers was born and bred in Ashford South Australia .

Two of my favourites are older Olympians now. Leisel Jones grew up in Katherine NT, and I know a lot of her formative training years were spent in a backyard pool not much bigger than the pool at Swim For Your Life Billinudgel.

And what about our local hero, Petria Thomas. Born in Lismore and lived and trained in Mullumbimby. Even has the local pool named in her honour!

My own swimming career began in the creek on our family farm. My mum was terrified of water. So terrified she would not wash her hair in the shower. She could only wash her hair over the laundry tub. But regularly she would take the 4 of us down to the creek and let us have a swim. If one of us got into trouble, I doubt very much she would have been able to help us.

Australian swimmers are a fit healthy group and generally also do  better at school . Your children have a unique opportunity to  get so much from swimming lessons.

Join us on weekdays and Saturday mornings at Swim For Your Life Billinudgel.


Australian swimmers

Brittany Elmslie (top L-R), Emma McKeon, and Bronte Campbell of Australia celebrate their new World Record winning the women’s 4x100m Freestyle Relay final race of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Swimming events at Olympic Aquatics Stadium at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 06 August 2016. EPA/BERND THISSEN

Kids Swimming Lessons Byron Shire

Kids swimming lessons are essential to build your child’s confidence in the water.

We provide kids swimming lessons all year round from our pool located in Bilinudgel. We are just off the Pacific Highway North of Byron Bay,Brunswick Heads and Mullumbimby. Our swim classes accommodate all skill levels. Your child will be allocated a class after assessment by our qualified swimming teachers.

Our kids swimming lessons take 15 minutes or half an hour depending on where you child is at. We advise you to enroll for the term, to make sure your child gets the best possible opportunity to gain confidence in the water.

All our swim teachers are SWIM Australia accredited. Ruth Smith the proprietor is an Austswim swim Teacher. Ruth has qualifications in Swimming and Water Safety and is also a Bronze level Swim Coach.

Our team love to see your child progress and are passionate about swimming. We have testimonials on our website which show happy kids and parents after a kids swimming lesson.

Our swim Facility has been updated and improved in 2016 with new waterproof grass a heater. The kids warm themselves happily after a swim lesson. We provide modern renovated bathrooms and change rooms.

One of the many benefits of swim lessons is better preparedness for school. A Griffith University study has shown kids swimming lessons for under 5’s develop’s better numeracy literacy and language skills.

Join us today at Swim For Your Life Billinudgel and quick start your child’s confidence in the water.

You will find our accredited swim teachers encouraging, friendly and progressive.

kids swimming lessons

Kids Swimming Lessons at Swim For Your Life

Swimming Efficiently Byron Bay

Swimming Efficiently


Swimming is superb aerobic exercise (vigorous exercise that really pumps your heart and lungs) and very tiring. The two things are of course connected. You can swim further for longer by swimming more efficiently, which in turn means using as little energy as possible for each stroke by getting as much forward propulsion as possible.


With freestyle, for example, the object is to extend your hand as much as you can and bring it back as far as possible, dragging as much water back (with a cupped hand and bent forearm) as you possibly can. If you make a long, complete stroke with a proper follow-through, you are applying your pulling force for longer and each stroke will count for more.


To put it another way, if you want to produce the biggest possible change of momentum, you need to apply your force (pulling back on the water) far as long as possible…..with as long a stroke as possible and a good, complete follow-through. It is also worth remembering that the human body is a machine. Our limbs work like levers, pivoted at our joints and this multiplies force or speed. When you are doing freestyle, it is important to reach forward and pull your arm backward as much as you can. You get more leverage on the water that way and the force you create pulling backward will give you more force to go forward. A good follow-through also decelerates your limbs more slowly, and reducing the acceleration reduces the force they feel, reducing the likelihood of pulled muscles and other injuries.


It takes energy to push your body through water – and your body loses the same amount of energy in the process. The rate at which something uses energy is called power. According to an interesting article from Physicist Rhett Allain, champion swimmers can briefly achieve a power of 12oo watts (the maximum power of a clothes washing machine or a very powerful vacuum cleaner), which is about 3 times what a champion cyclist achieves. It’s not surprising that a swimmer uses more energy that a cyclist given that all 4 limbs of a swimmer are moving all the time (compared with just a cyclist’s legs), and in a more dense fluid. But it is surprising to me that the difference is so great! There seems to me no obvious reason why a human body working at full tilt should be able to produce so much more power in one fluid (water) that another (air).

Is your Child Afraid of the Water at Swimming Lessons?

What Should I Do If My Child Cries and Is Afraid at the Pool.

It can be hard to know what to do when your child cries during lessons. A certain amount of crying is ok from time to time and is to be expected from most beginners. The crying can be a natural expression of a new experience in the water and/or separation from you. We actively work with your child to reassure him or her and ease your child’s discomfort.

What Can You Do As A Parent To Help Deter The Crying?

Try to be proactive and prepare your child for this new experience. Explain to your child that he/she will be working with a teacher and meeting new friends while learning how to swim. Explain to your child he/she will learn how to play new games, blow bubbles and float in the water. Assure your child that the teacher will NEVER force him/her to go under water or let go until he/she is fully ready.

If your child is fussing prior to swim lessons, acknowledge that you understand that he/she is afraid. Then tell your child that you know that he/she can do the things that the teacher will be asking him/her to try. Next walk your child out onto the pool deck and hand him/her over to the teacher. Then calmly walk away from the pool side, with a confident expression. (If you look terrified so will your child). Try to avoid having a teacher chase your child or physically pull them off you as this may cause your child to want to protest more. By handing your child over to the teacher you are telling your child that you and they can trust the teacher. That vote of confidence will greatly help the teacher as well.

If your crying child continually looks at you and calls to you, break eye contact or move out of their line of sight. This can easily be accomplished by looking at a magazine or book every time he/she looks at you. By breaking eye contact with your child during lessons, your child will become involved in his/her lesson and the instructor will have his/her full attention. The teacher will address the issue of crying and come up with a positive solution, so your child can conquer his/her fears. Feel free to take a peek at your child without him/her noticing. Keeping a pleasant expression assures your child there is no reason for alarm.

Be sure to share with the instructor if your child has had previous negative experiences in an aquatic environment.

Be persistent and don’t give up! Crying is usually the toughest on the parent. After the first few lessons children usually become comfortable in the class. Delaying or avoiding swimming lessons can make an imagined problem only bigger. Think of learning to swim like wearing a seat belt or a bike helmet. Until you can swim its simple not negotiable. Children don’t have the maturity to understand they are at risk around water. As a parent you need to have the courage and confidence to make learning to swim an important priority.

How long is too long for your child to cry in swim lessons

On average, most children have stopped crying after the third or fourth lesson. At the very least you should notice that the crying is less with each lesson. If not chat with the manager to arrange other options.

What causes fear of the water?

Some of the most common causes of early fear of the water have to do with the way parents relate to their children in and around water. These causes can include:

  • Being forced into water activities before being properly prepared.
  • Being reared by parents who are afraid of the water and have either knowingly or unknowingly communicated this fear to their children.
  • Being involved in or witnessing a traumatic water accident.

Fear of the water is acquired over time. The older a child is when first beginning a learn-to-swim program, the more challenging his or her fear will likely be to overcome.

Remember, learning to swim is a life-saving skill – the best day to start lessons, was yesterday!


Agents of Change and Coaching Courage – Swim Teacher



As a swim teacher and coach it always amazes me the courage that some of our new and young swimmers have when learning to swim. Teachers are continually asking the students to do things they have perhaps never done before and new things as we know, can be scary.

Courage is for me, feeling this fear, having doubts, trusting and doing it anyway. Swim teachers/coaches can be seen as agents of change. And change demands that swimmers are always trying new things. More often that not,trying something new means that failure is part of the deal. There’s a first time for everything. No one gets it right first time every time. But 2 things are for certain: Change is our only constant and our attitude to change makes a big difference.

When a swim teacher introduces a new drill or skill, the swimmers brain processes that new thought. The swimmer at this point can think “I can’t do this” or “I can do this”. The time and energy it takes to think or say either is the same.

Thoughts lead to words and words lead to actions. Therefore, if the process of learning commences with an “I can’t” the chances of failure on one’s first attempt at anything new, are high.



Swim Teacher Tamara, in the pool coaching kids at swim for your life Billinudgel

Teaching/coaching courage is our ability to teach swimmers how to adopt an “I can” attitude to every new piece of learning.

Why Learning to Swim in Winter is Important.

Why Learning to Swim in Winter is Important

Parents and carers are being warned by Royal Life Saving not to opt out of swimming lessons for children during Autumn and Winter as the weather gets cooler. Royal Life Saving CEO Justin Scarr points out figures showing drowning deaths happen all year round, including Autumn and Winter. Justin says it is a common misconception that drowning deaths only occur in Summer. He goes on to state that Winter is in fact the best time of the year to participate. Children are more likely to improve skills and endurance by building on skills already learn’t and may progress quickly to the next stage. Swimming, as regular exercise, strengthens the immune system so children may be less likely to fall ill over the cooler months. Having breaks over winter often results in children’s skills experiencing a plateau or even going backwards.

Maintenance and Reinforcement

Children need to maintain and reinforce existing skills to advance and develop their swimming ability in the water. Months of summer lessons end up “going to waste” as swimmers loose their “feel for the water” both physically and psychologically. Such maintenance and reinforcement is particularly important for infant, toddler and pre-school aged children when long-term skill retention and muscle memory are starting to develop. Swimming has been proven to assist in brain development and, for school-aged children, is regarded as vital for the development of academic performance, as well as co-ordination, motor skills, balance and concentration.

Regression in Confidence and Performance

Six months out of the water across winter’s break can lead to problems such as fear of the water and a decline in performance.Continued participation in swimming lessons across winter is the best way to prevent otherwise unwanted outcomes that may include being scared of the water, worried about the depth of the water, or just feeling uncomfortable in and around water. A failure to attend lessons invariably leads to children being unable to perform at the level they were previously able to and, in turn, to a decline in confidence and performance.
It may be economically more advantageous to swim all-year round than to pay for additional lessons during summer or for extra lessons within a term to compensate for the decline in the child’s swimming development that has occurred over the winter break.

Health Benefits

Higher fitness levels gained through year-round swimming may build stronger immune systems that make a child more resilient to stress and illness. Some parents withdraw their children from swimming lessons when the temperature drops believing it will help avoid illness – it is an old wives’ tale that children who have “wet hair” or who “go out in the cold” get sick. From my observations and experience, children who swim throughout the winter and who may get sick, seem to get over their ailment in a short period of time. Swimming, along with good nutrition, can help your little ones stay fit and healthy during winter. Wearing a swimming cap during the lessons, warm clothing and footwear for after lessons are also good habits for healthy kids during winter.



Swimming Classes Result in Mental Strength

Swimming classes provide  your child the ability to relax as soon as they enter the pool here at swim For Your life.  As  your child begins to learn good consistent technique,  swimming becomes  very meditative, similar to running or other forms of exercise.   Breathing rhythm and mental strength are all a part of what we teach. Having a happy and relaxed kid can be very beneficial for a busy Mum, Dad, Carer or Grandparent. Swimming results in mental strength, fitness and relaxation. Swimming Lessons can provide a  great combination of benefits for a growing child.  Immerse  yourself in the bath in a pool or at the beach, no gravity and a sense of relaxation comes over you, you can let go of your thoughts and free your mind of the daily grind and clutter life can bring.

swimming classes - swim for your life

New Look at Swim For Your Life

The Swim For Your Life swimming center has had some improvements and it is looking good. The unseen improvements include replacing the cartridge filters with bigger sand filters and automating the salt chlorination system for both pools. We have 2 car spaces for the sole use of Swim For Your Life parents close to the office and we also have a tumble turn wall. The improvements I am most excited about however is the marine carpet which has been laid and the coat of paint the outside of the center received lately. The place is looking great! Of course this does not change the way we teach and encourage our students and business is back to normal Monday 25th January with our first classes recommencing. Don’t forget Tuesday is a public holiday and that means the center is closed.

Coco, Tamara and myself have just completed 3 weeks of week-long intensive swim programs. We saw some great results and “fast-tracking” for all students. I enjoyed the week of stroke development Swim For Your Life ran at Mullumbimby pool. The students are all preparing for their school carnivals and improved each stroke with starts, turns and finishes.

Another NEW LOOK item is swimming caps with the Swim For Your Life logo on them now for sale at the center. It will become a policy that all children learning to swim at the center will wear a swimming cap. This will align us will the Workplace Health and Safety policy and Duty of Care policy for staff and participants.