Coventry swim school staying afloat thanks to community support

A swim teacher who hasn’t taken a wage in three years has thanked the Coventry community for supporting her swim school through the coronavirus pandemic.

A community swimming school is staying afloat thanks to kind-hearted Coventry and Warwickshire businesses and parents rallying round.

Octanauts Swim School teaches young children through to adults to get their water wings six days a week.

More than 400 children attend the lessons six days a week at West Coventry Academy in Tile Hill, Coventry, and 30 youngsters had started attending classes at Tiverton Special School in Whitley, Coventry until the lockdown led to their closure.

The business, which for the last three years has been led by managing director Susan Murrell, has been receiving advice and support from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership Growth Hub amidst the current uncertainty.

Susan said the coronavirus pandemic had threatened to close Octanauts Swim School until businesses and parents decided to donate prizes for a raffle to raise much-needed funds.

Susan, who has over 20 years’ experience in the industry, said: “It is a community swim school so although it is a business, I haven’t taken a wage in three years to make sure we can continue to offer lessons as accessible as possible.

“My priority is to ensure as many children as possible love the water and are active, and all the seven staff have been trained by me including two who are parents of children.

“Once the lessons were forced to stop on March 20, the Growth Hub was really good at sending through information about grants and loans that were available and suggested online networking events and to increase our profile on social media.

“That got me thinking to organise an internal raffle based around free swimming lessons and that raised £530 which covered our insurance because despite not being open, we still had to pay even though it was slightly reduced.

“Since then we have run raffles on our Facebook page and website with prizes from local businesses as well as small businesses owned by parents of youngsters we teach.

“This mutually beneficial support has meant we have been able to cover some of our costs before we are allowed to open again.

“When we receive the go-ahead, we will need to train our seven staff for a week to make sure lessons are safe and everyone is updated on the safety measures but we can’t wait to get back in the pools again!

“The support of the business community and parents has been fantastic and we wouldn’t have been able to keep going without them.”

Louise Wright, business navigator at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the generosity of Coventry and Warwickshire businesses and parents had provided a much-needed lifeline to swim school.

“The community has really rallied around this much-loved swimming school which underlines just how much it means to families,” she said.

“Octanauts Swim School has also been providing homework to help youngsters retain their skills by setting a stroke a month to practice on dry land which emphasises their community ethos.

“The Growth Hub is here to help in all sorts of ways, whether it is providing an ear to listen to business problems or providing the most up-to-date advice from Government.”

To support Octanauts Swim School, visit crowdfunder.co.uk/octanauts-swim-school-brighter-future-beyond-covid.