In June 2023, teacher Miss Bottomley (Linzie) ran a Water Smart course for year three and four pupils at St. Annes College Grammar School in Lancashire; an area where Linzie says water safety education is very much needed.  

Having spent lots of time on the beaches of Spain, Linzie has always loved being in the water and has passed this onto her own children who, aged 11, are currently onto their Stage 3 Silver Rookie Lifeguarding Award. She lives in Blackpool and whilst she rarely braves a dip in the chilly Irish sea; Linzie can usually be found at her local pool where she teaches children as part of Swimtime North.

The Water Smart Award was created by RLSS UK as a standalone skill-based programme that the charity believes everyone should be able to achieve in order to ensure safety and competency around water. It’s a chance for participants to learn some water safety skills that will help keep themselves and others safe whilst having fun and enjoying the water. 

The award was developed in line with curriculum swimming outcomes, which enabled Linzie to teach it seamlessly alongside her lessons.

Miss Bottomley said “As far as why I think it’s important to deliver this award, I feel it’s imperative. I honestly believe, and I tell my young swimmers, every lesson that being safe and smart in water is a skill that is just as important as reading and writing. The difference with Water Smart is the element of fun and delivering the message at the same time. For me personally this is my passion. Getting that message across because you have no idea what will happen next week or next year and when you will need to bring out the skill of getting out of a situation that will otherwise result in a very bad or tragic end. 

“I use my lessons to push safety, I would always want a lesson where we tread water, we fall in, we roll on our backs and master these skills than I would make them swim front crawl for ten lengths. 

"Treading water is always the one the swimmers and children aren’t keen on at first, but as soon as they get the concept of being a jellyfish (I give everything a crazy name!) they love it and want to practice and get better. I just can’t tell you the feeling of seeing a somewhat nervous child enter the water and be able to find out they can do it! When they get that, it’s a feeling you can’t buy! 

“I’ve been lucky enough to use the pool at the Village Hotel and they gave me access without charging me! The class took the dry part on the grass in the sun, and we talked about being smart around water and the different situations that can occur. Then I took them in the water, and we completed the award.” 

Schoolchildren learn Water Safety Schoolchildren learn Water Smart Award

The Water Smart Award focuses on five main areas: 

  1. Water safety awareness 
  2. Getting in and out of the water safely 
  3. Safely staying afloat 
  4. Safely moving in the water 
  5. Performing rescues safely (optional) 

Whilst Water Smart is a standalone award and separate from RLSS UK’s other water safety programmes; it does provide a gateway for participants to go on to complete further awards, developing their skills and knowledge along the way. 

If you already hold an RLSS UK water-based Instructor qualification, you can deliver this award. If you are interested in teaching the Water Smart Award, you can find out more here 

“I absolutely love delivering the Water Smart Award. I enjoy it more than teaching and really believe it’s as important as reading and writing! I love that it gives kids the element of fun whilst delivering the message at the same time – that is my passion”