Abingdon Swim School

About Us

Abingdon Swim School is a friendly and caring swimming school, operating on Saturday mornings at Abingdon School Sports Centre. Lessons are 30 minutes long, available at 09:30 10:00 10:30 and 11:00, for ages 4 years and over.

*Lessons for older children and adults are available on request.

Our swimming lessons focus on teaching skill development for beginners and improvers through to competent swimmers. Our class sizes are small with no more than 6 children in each class so that focus is always on each individual child’s development.

Abingdon Swim School is an Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) registered Swimming School. We teach all four competitive strokes, within the framework of the National Plan for Teaching of Swimming (NPTS). Assessments are carried out in the final few weeks of term.

  • Lessons for all abilities

  • ASA Qualified Teachers

  • Ratios no more than 1:6 (1:3 for beginners!)

  • Badges and certificates available to purchase on completion

  • *NEW *Children enrolled in Abingdon Swim School get free access to public swimming sessions (under 8’s must be accompanied by an adult)

Abingdon Swim School aims to provide quality swimming lessons in a fun and safe environment, delivered by enthusiastic and passionate swim teachers.

With over 750 years of history, Abingdon School is a leading independent day and boarding school for boys aged 11-18 with top-class teaching and sports facilities, which includes our modern 8-lane indoor swimming pool – maintained at 28oC which makes it the perfect environment for your child’s swimming journey. The pool has a specially designed spectator area on poolside, providing great viewing access for you to watch your child’s swimming development.

The Revised (Autumn 2007) NPTS is a framework for learn to swim programmes, providing teachers with a clear and consistent approach for the structure and delivery of swimming lessons. All swimmers following the NPTS benefit from a quality assured scheme. Introduced in 1998, the NPTS is one of the most successful programmes ever introduced by a sports governing body and has become the preferred framework for the delivery of learn to swim lessons throughout the UK.

The ASA is the English National Governing Body for Swimming. It organises competition throughout England, establishes the Laws of the Sport and operates comprehensive certification and education programmes for Teachers, Coaches and Officials as well as its renowned Learn To Swim Awards scheme. The ASA supports 1,600 affiliated swimming clubs through a National/Regional/County structure.

The Duckling Awards are designed to help young children explore and enjoy the fun of learning to swim. With the help of an assistant, the Duckling Awards support the National Plan for Teaching Swimming and help to develop and boost the confidence of young children, both in and out of the water. Buoyancy aids (including armbands, floats or a SwimFin etc) can be used in the first four grades as the child learns how to float and gets used to being in the water. The fifth and final grade shows the confidence level of the young swimmers. They have to jump into the water, swim back to point of entry, submerge and blow bubbles, float and swim five metres all without aid.

Duckling 1

Make a supervised safe entry with adult support

Kick 2 metres on the back with adult support

Float on the back with adult support behind the head

Blow bubbles at the water surface

Wet the head without submersion

Travel without assistance 2 metres to a floating object (it is recommended that a baby seat of other buoyancy aid be used)

Duckling 2

Make a sitting entry with adult support

Blow an object for a distance of 2 metres

Using a baby seat or other buoyancy aid, rotate through 180° without assistance.

Move 5 metres along the rail or wall without assistance

Travel 3 metres using arms and/or legs without assistance

Submerge the face with confidence

Duckling 3

Jump to an adult

Kick 5 metres on the front holding a float

Blow bubbles with mouth underwater

Float on front OR back without support

Travel 5 metres on front to the side of the pool

Show a torpedo shape on front or back when pushed to a partner

Duckling 4

To jump unaided but supervised in the water

Submerge completely

Rotate through 360° either horizontally or vertically

Show a mushroom or a start float

Travel without assistance 10 metres on the front or back

Climb out of the water with assistance if required

Duckling 5

Show the sequence: jump in the water, turn around, swim back to the point of entry and hold the rail or side.

Submerge completely and blow bubbles under the water

Push and glide achieving a distance of 2 metres on the front or back

Float on the front or back and regain standing/vertical position

Swim 5 metres on the front or back using an over water arm recovery

Exit safely showing correct use of the ladder (or steps if no ladder available)

These awards are designed around the National Plan for Teaching Swimming NPTS, the most successful sports programme of its kind and a guarantee to parents that their children are receiving the best possible instruction.

Covering all 10 stages of the syllabus, the colour-coded badges and certificates have been designed to reward your child for the effort they put into each stage.
Stages 1-7 help develop the core range of FUNdamental skills your child needs to be confident, competent and safe in the water, while Stages 8-10 offer the opportunity to develop skills from disciplines such as diving and water polo.

The 19 awards available are Stages 1-7, Stages 8,9,10 water polo, Stages 8,9,10 synchro, Stages 8,9,10 competitive swimming and Stages 8,9,10 water polo.

Stage 1

Enter the water safely

Move forwards for a distance of 5 metres

Move backwards for a distance of 5 metres

Move sideways for distance of 5 metres

Scoop the water and wash face

Be at ease with water showered from overhead

Move into a stretched floating position using aids, equipment or support

Regain an upright position from on the back, with support

Regain an upright position from on the front with support

Push & glide in a horizontal position to or from a wall

Stage 2

Jump in from poolside safely

Blow bubbles a minimum of 3 times rhythmically with nose and mouth submerged

Regain upright position from the back without support

Regain an upright position from the front without support

Push from wall & glide on the back

Push from wall & glide on the front

Travel on the back for 5 metres, aids or equipment may be used

Travel on the front for 5 metres, aids or equipment may be used

Perform a rotation from the front to the back to gain an upright position

Stage 3

Jump in from poolside and submerge (min depth. 0.9)

Sink, push away from wall on side and maintain a streamlined position

Push & glide on the front with arms extended and log roll onto the back

Push & glide on the back with arms extended and log roll onto the front

Travel on the front, tuck to rotate around the horizontal axis to return on the back

Fully submerge to pick up an object

Answer correctly 3 questions on the Water Safety Code

Travel 10 metres on the back

Travel 10m on the front

Stage 4

Demonstrate an understanding of buoyancy

Perform a tuck float for 5 seconds

Perform a sequence of changing shapes (minimum of 3) whilst floating at the surface

Push & glide from the wall to the pool floor

Kick 10 metres Backstroke

Kick 10 metres Front Crawl

Kick 10 metres Butterfly on the front or on the back

Kick 10 metres Breaststroke on the back

Kick 10 metres Breaststroke on the front

Perform on the back a head first sculling action for 5m in a horizontal position

Travel on the back and roll in one continuous movement onto front

Travel on the front and roll in one continuous movement onto back

Swim 10 metres, choice of stroke is optional

Stage 5

Perform a horizontal stationary scull on the back

Perform a feet first sculling action for 5 metres whilst horizontal on the back

Perform a sculling sequence with a partner for 30-45 seconds to include a rotation

Tread water for 30 seconds

Perform 3 different shaped jumps into deep water

Swim 10 metres Backstroke

Swim 10 m Front Crawl face in the water

Swim 10 metres Breaststroke

Swim 10 metres Butterfly

Perform a handstand and hold for a minimum of 3 seconds

Perform a forward somersault, tucked, in the water

Demonstrate an action for getting help

Stage 6

Demonstrate an understanding of preparation for exercise

Sink, push off on side from the wall, glide, kick and rotate into Backstroke

Sink, push off on side from the wall, glide, kick and rotate into Front Crawl

Swim 10 metres with clothes on

Swim Front Crawl to include at least six rhythmical breaths

Swim Breaststroke to include at least six rhythmical breaths

Swim Butterfly to include at least three rhythmical breaths

Swim 25 metres, choice of stroke is optional

Perform a ‘shout & signal’ rescue

Perform a surface dive

Stage 7

Swim 25 metres Backstroke

Swim 25 metres Front Crawl

Swim 25 metres Breaststroke

Swim 25 metres Butterfly

Perform a movement sequence of 1 minute duration, in a group of 3 or more, incorporating a number of the following skills: Sculling, Rotation, Floating, Eggbeater

Perform a sitting dive

Swim 50 metres continuously using one stroke

Swim 100 metres, using a minimum three different strokes

Tread water using egg beater action for 30 seconds

Complete an obstacle course (using minimum of 4 objects) with feet off the bottom throughout

Stage 8

Complete a set lasting 400m (e.g 16 x 25m) on a specific turnaround time set by the coach

Swim 400m continuously using one stroke

Kick 25m Backstroke with/without using a board

Kick 25m Breaststroke with/without using a board

Kick 25m Butterfly with/without using a board

Kick 25m Front Crawl with/without using a board

Perform a Backstroke turn from 10m in to 15m out

Perform a Breaststroke turn from 10m in to 15m out

Perform a Butterfly turn from 10m in to 15m out

Perform a Front Crawl turn from 10m in to 15m out

Stage 9

Complete a set lasting 800m (E.g. Either 16 x 50m; 8 x 100m; 4 x 200m) on a specific turnaround time set by the coach

Swim 800m continuously using one stroke

Swim a continuous 100m IM using legal turns

Perform a 15m underwater kick on front in a streamlined position

Perform a Backstroke start then Butterfly kick in a streamlined position underwater until 10m from the start point (wall), transfer into stroke and complete the remainder of the 25m

Perform a Front Crawl start, underwater kick in a streamlined position until a minimum of 10m from the start point (wall) is completed, transfer into stroke and complete the remainder of the 25m

Perform a Butterfly start, kick in a streamlined position until a minimum of 10m from the start point (wall) is completed, transfer into stroke and complete the remainder of the 25m

Perform a Breaststroke start, perform a 11⁄2 pull under water, transfer into stroke and complete the remainder of the 25m

Stage 10

Complete a set lasting 1600m (either 16 x 100m; 8 x 200m; 4 x 400m) on a specific timed turn around set by the coach

The Rainbow Awards are bright, cheerful and motivating. They are designed to give young swimmers, aged five and older, the incentive to develop their swimming abilities and stamina. This comprehensive collection of distance awards ranges from five metres with a buoyancy aid (Puffin) through to 5,000 metres. This range of awards is designed to motivate children to swim longer distances by increasing the distance gradually over the 19 Awards in the series. This helps young swimmers to develop their confidence, ability and stroke techniques along the way. The Puffin Award and the Rainbow Awards have been very carefully designed to test, encourage and give swimmers the confidence to achieve their goals.

ASA Rainbow Distance Awards

The ASA Rainbow Distance Awards are designed to complement the 10 stages of the ASA Learn to Swim Framework.

They are a range of bright, cheerful badges and certificates to help keep your child motivated while working through the individual Learn to Swim stages.

Swimming ability and stamina are the focus of the 19 Rainbow Distance Awards. Children over five-years-old can work their way from the five metres with buoyancy aid Puffin award through to the 5,000m award, depending on which stage of the ASA Learn to Swim Framework they have attained.

If your child is working through Stages 1-7 of the Framework they can also work up to the 200m Rainbow Distance Award. Learners on stages 8-10 can secure up to the 1,500m award. Swimmers who have completed all stages can strive for 5,000m.

If your child doesn’t want to stop at distance and fancies a further challenge, then the ASA has devised the Rainbow Stroke Awards to act as a further incentive to improve.

ASA Rainbow Stroke Awards

The ASA Rainbow Stroke Awards covers distances of between five and 100 metres, and complement Stages 1-7 of the ASA Learn to Swim Framework.

They offer swimmers a further challenge after they have attained the ASA Rainbow Distance Awards.

Covering front crawl, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly at five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50 and 100m, the ASA Rainbow Stroke Awards have been graded to offer your child achievable steps to help develop technique while having fun.

If after attaining all awards your child wants to take his or her stroke work further then you may want to consider the Swimming Stroke Awards.

Objectives for the ASA Rainbow Stroke Awards:

Front Crawl

Body position: horizontal, streamlined, close to surface, in alignment.

Legs: in line with body, close to surface kick as necessary to ensure above.

Arms: entry under control, thumb and finger entry, between head and shoulder line, pull/push within body width, continuous action, close to body plane.

Breathing: to side, head in line, regular, confident, exhale in water.

Timing: rhythmic action, regular and consistent breathing pattern.

Turns: unhesitating, fast somersault, push to full stretch, turn onto front after push off, pull with one arm into stroke.

Finish: fast, one hand touch, aggressive, hold breath on approach.

Back Stroke

Body position: horizontal, close to surface, in alignment, head steady.

Legs: alternating kick, just breaking surface, holding alignment.

Arms: shoulder line entry with straight arm, pull/push as close to body as possible, release past hip, vertical recovery, no pause in action, regular.

Timing: continuity of arm action, rhythmic.

Turns: use of flags where possible. Confident, unhesitating roll onto front, check orientation.

Fast somersault, push and stretch off wall, kick then pull with one arm into stroke.

Finish: confident fast finish, on back, at full stretch, one hand touch.


Body position: stretched, streamlined position, head kept steady. Hips just below surface, toes pointed.

Legs: heels draw up toward seat, feet pointing out for kick. Kick accelerating round to straighten in one sweep.

Arms: from stretch, hands sweep out (never past shoulders). Hands and elbows sweep in at speed towards hips. Hands push forward to streamlined full stretch.

Breathing: to front, shoulders square. Normally every stroke lift head as arms press down.

Timing: pull and breathe. As arms extend forwards, legs drive backward. Pull, breathe, kick, and glide.

Turns: touch according to Law. Fast tuck and rocking action. Stay low. Push, glide and stroke (as for start).

Finish: In stretch position, according to Law.


Body position: close to surface, undulating – initiated from the hips. Legs kick from hips. Drive feet down forcefully, toes pointed.

Arms: entry in front in line with shoulders. Hands scull out then under body. Release at or past hips. Recovery totally over water.

Breathing: to front or side. Head down before arms enter. Head up before hands release.

Timing: Kick as hands enter. Kick as hands push. Continuous action (no glide).

Turns: as breaststroke up to push off. After push kick in stretch. One pull smoothly into stroke.

Finish: in stretch position, according to Law.

  • Swimming

How long will it take to pass each stage?

This will vary with every swimmer.

If a child has the experience of Pre-School Classes then he / she may move faster initially through the Learn to Swim Pathway stages 1 & 2 as they will be familiar with the environment and possibly confident in the water.

Swimmers must be competent in all outcomes at each stage. Stages have multiple elements to be assessed so it does take time for swimmers to progress to the next stage.

Why might swimmers be playing games instead of swimming widths / lengths?

Through games, swimmers have FUN and learn important skills. If swimmers are having FUN they enjoy what they are doing and often learn faster.

Does my child need to bring their armbands or other swimming aids?

We will provide all equipment necessary for your child’s lesson. If the teacher feels that your child needs extra buoyancy aids they will supply them for you.

How old does my child have to be to have swimming lessons at the Abingdon Swim School?

Your child must be at least 4 year old at the time of their first lesson with us.

My child has been ill with diarrhoea, when can they return to swimming?

Anyone who has had a bout of diarrhoea should not swim for at least 7-14 days. This is due to possible anal seepage which could carry the cryptospiridia and Giardia infectious cysts which are immune to chlorine.

What if my child has a cold or is unwell?

It is not wise to bring your child swimming with anything more than a very mild cold. Please consider the other children in your group as your child will spread infection and is unlikely to enjoy swimming at that time.

If your child has an ear infection, please do not swim until it has cleared up. It is not likely to have been caused by swimming, however, it will be uncomfortable and your child’s ear should be kept dry until it is clear. If your child has repetitive ear infections you can purchase ‘Ear Band’ for swimming, and seek advice from your GP or consultant.

  • Booking

How do I book and pay for a course?

You can download a booking form from our website or alternatively you can email us at swimschool@abingdon.org.uk. Once we receive your booking form at head office we will then either book you in for the next available course or put you on a waiting list. Payment is made when sending the enrolment form into our office or by card over the phone. The place is not confirmed until payment is made in full.

How do I re-enrol for the next course?

Near the end of each course of lessons, you will be given a re-enrolment form to enable you to continue. Priority is given to those that are already in Swimschool and who are not changing class, day and time, 2nd (second) priority is then given to those that are already in Swim School who wish to change day or time. This priority is only given if the re-enrolment is received before the (priority booking deadline?) cut-off date, which is usually the last week of a course. Once this date has been reached places will then be allocated to our waiting lists.

What happens if I cancel my course?

Once a place has been booked on a course, there will be no refund given.

I’m going on holiday; can I pay only for the lessons we will be attending?

Unfortunately you will have to pay for the whole course to guarantee your place.

  • General

What changing facilities are available?

Changing facilities are available. Male and female changing rooms are located down the main corridor on the right. Please note, for the first session at 9.30am you will not be allowed have access to the changing rooms until 9.15am.  We advise that if you cannot shower your child then you should give them a bath or shower on returning home.

Can I and my family watch my child swim?

Yes you can watch your child swim from the viewing stand on the right as you enter the pool. However, no parents are allowed on the immediate poolside unless agreed with the swim school coordinator or a teacher. In which case, you would need to either remove your outdoor shoes or wear the blue shoe covers provided.

Do I need to stay in the building during my child’s swimming lesson?

Yes, if under 8 years old.

What is your policy on photographing my child?

In accordance with our child protection policy, photographing or videoing is not allowed during our swim schools operating hours. Phones are not allowed to be used and should always be switched off.

What happens in the event of pool closures due to bad weather like snow?

In the event of pool closures that are beyond our or the pool’s control, refunds will not be given. An example of this may be bad weather which may mean the roads are closed or are unsafe. We will announce pool closures on our website and on all our answerphone machines.

Current Term: Autumn Term 2017

9th September – 23rd December 2017

*Half Term – 28th October – NO SESSION*

We still have places available so enquire now- pro-rata rates can be arranged.

Next Enrolment: Spring Term 2018

6th January –  24th March (11 lessons)

*Half Term – 17th February- NO SESSION*

Private Lessons

Abingdon Swim School also provide private 1:1 lessons for children and adults. Enquire today!

Holiday Courses

Separate to the term-time course, Abingdon Swim School also offers special intensive courses over the holidays.

Next Holiday Intensive Course: February Half Term 2018

Monday 12th – Friday 16th February 2018 (5 lessons)

*Details and Timings TBC*

Register Now