Learning should be a rewarding and enjoyable process, not one which only creates bad memories. For me, this applies very much to learn to swim, and I speak from personal experience. I still have flashbacks of being shouted at from the sidelines by my first swimming coach. It seemed that whatever I did, it was not good enough!

What surprises me the most is that there is still a strong legacy of that approach when it comes to swimming coaching today.


Because it ‘works’. I put works in inverted commas as yes, the end result is that you have learned to swim well, but at what cost? For sure, where water safety is concerned, one day being able to swim may save your life, and certainly life is a lot more fun at times if you can swim, but learning to swim should become much more than that. Learning to swim is a momentous occasion in anyone’s life, it is one of our more notable milestones, a mini rite of passage, along with learning to ride a bike, though this, admittedly, is a lot easier.

So, another question is, why do we shout and scream at kids when they are in the swimming pool, but not when they are out riding their bike? Because swimming is one of the first skills where, as a young child, we can be competitive in a sporting sense. You won’t catch eight ten-year-old kids flying around a velodrome on bikes with their coaches bellowing at them, but you will find that happening at most swimming pools. The biggest problem here is that often the children themselves don’t have a fully developed competitive nature, but their coaches do, and it is through the children that coaches massage their own egos.

I found a great video on the ‘coach from hell’ for a group of young American basketball players, and I am sure you will instantly recognise what I am talking about. I feel really sorry for these kids.


Here at Elite Marines, we are slightly different. Actually, I’ll rephrase that, we’re very different, and the results we regularly achieve speak for themselves. We don’t follow a blinkered approach when it comes to teaching children how to swim, or even when it comes to swimming training for those who are already fine swimmers and who clearly have a talent.

Our approach allies itself more to the parable of “give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime” as opposed to the carrot and stick approach. At Elite Marines we don’t just teach and coach swimming, we also encourage our students to develop additional skills far beyond those of swimming. Here I am talking about helping students discover how to inspire themselves, how to self-motivate, skills that are not just good for swimming, but for later in life, as they mature and enter into a career.

Let me give you an example of why we believe that teaching self-motivation is important, and not just for swimming training. Yes, we want all our swimmers to be motivated when they come to training, and we want that desire to do well to come from them, not us. From a personal perspective, one of the best examples I can give for the consequences of teachers proving motivation as opposed to students being motivated themselves is learning to play a musical instrument.

How many people who played a musical instrument at school continue to play when they are adults? Very few. However, in an article on the National Association for Music website I read a comment that struck a genuine chord with me, as I felt that this is very much the correct approach to take where helping kids develop self-motivation is concerned.


“… the real reasons that students quit is often beyond their own understanding.  It is up to teachers and parents to create moments for students to want to continue on their instrument during the early years of study in order for the child to be successful and stay with the craft.”

Here at Elite Marines, we want to teach your children a lot more than just how to swim to the best of their ability, we want to help children and youths mature and develop as well-rounded, enthusiastic and self-motivated individuals.

If you live in or are staying in Durban, Queensburgh or Kloof in Kwa-Zulu Natal, why not give us a call and we can tell you all about what we do here to help children develop not just a life-long love for water, but for many other aspects of life.