The classes changing lives on campus

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Paula Mayero reflects on how much she has loved and felt “useful” teaching her Water Safe students. Paula is a USYD all-rounder. She’s an international student from Spain, a competitive swimmer in Sydney Uni’s Varsity program and a super popular current swim school instructor.

Could you tell us a bit about your background and your love for swimming?

I have been swimming since I was 3 and joined the competitive squad in Spain when I was 13. I decided after that to stop training at a national level and started swimming just for fun.

However, when I came to Australia I realised how much I missed swimming for a team and Sydney Uni gave me a great opportunity to enjoy swimming again. 

What motivated you to become a swim school instructor at the University of Sydney? 

When I became a member of the swimming squad at the University of Sydney, I felt like I was working back home again. To me, that’s very important when you are in a new place, if your passion is your job, then everything is made easier. I really feel very lucky to have gained this opportunity.

What drew you to becoming a swim school instructor specifically for SUSF’s Water Safe program?

The Water Safe program is something new for me as we don’t have this sort of culture in Spain. It was very challenging but at the same time it made me feel useful and was very rewarding. It was undoubtedly a lot better than I expected.

What has been the best and most rewarding part of being a swim school instructor for the Water Safe program?

I think the best part has been the students. They are really motivated and have come because they want to learn how to swim. This makes lessons a lot easier and more fun. The best part is when you see they are having fun in the water when just minutes before they were panicking.

What has been the most challenging part of being a swim school instructor for the Water Safe program?

The most challenging part is when students start panicking in the water. Being afraid of the water is one of the many obstacles to overcome.

Do you have a story to share about a particular student achieving something exceptional?

I had really good students in my classes. I remember one of my students told me on the first day that she had never swum before and was really scared. I started talking to her and we realised we had some things in common. Both of us are international students that had completed a law degree. We were like friends having fun in the swimming pool. Last week she started swimming by herself and I couldn’t be happier. Also at the end of the program she asked to join the Learn to Swim adult program so she could keep improving.

Daniella Collison and Masoud Salehpour (Pouya) have been labelled star students in the Water Safe program. Daniella has been commended for all her achievements in the water this semester, and Pouya has excelled in breaststroke.

Daniella Collison

What have you enjoyed most about the Water Safe program?

I have enjoyed every aspect of the Water Safe program. The environment which I learnt in was completely safe, I was always watched over by an instructor and I always felt comfortable. My swim teacher was always so supportive and patient at all times. At no point in time did I ever feel embarrassed or ashamed in the water whilst swimming, because similar to me everyone else was also learning how to swim. At first I thought it would be absolutely horrible and I would look terrible in my bathing suit (like an adult in a swimsuit not knowing how to swim and looking like a drowning fish) but this feeling never occurred to me. My swim instructor was as encouraging as I could ever imagine her to be, and everyone that was involved in the 2019 Semester 1 Water Safe program worked together as a team. I overcame my fears of going out into the deep-end and after my swim classes, I swam laps of the swimming pool (with many stops along the way) but I MADE IT! It was honestly such a great opportunity to be a part of.

Would you recommend the Water Safe program to other students who have no or limited experience with the water, and why?

Absolutely!!!! If a country girl from rural NSW that’s 20 years old, with very limited abilities in the water can get into a bathing suit and be a part of the Water Safe program – so can anyone else! There is no excuse to not take this class. I grew up in a small town with no beaches or open bodies of water anywhere, and I believe that knowing how to swim is an essential part of living. You haven’t got anything to lose, so just take this class and enjoy the perks of knowing how to float, freestyle and backstroke in the water.

Masoud Salehpour (Pouya)

What have you enjoyed most about the Water Safe program?

The Water Safe program provided me with the opportunity to get familiar with different water skills such as common swim strokes and survival techniques. I liked seeing how carefully this program was designed and managed. I also enjoyed the warm and friendly atmosphere of the pool.

Would you recommend the Water Safe program to other students who have no or limited experience with the water, and why? 

I would highly recommend the Water Safe program to all students. This is because you will learn a new water skill from a professional teacher every week if you attend regularly.