Just over a year ago, 12-year-old Monica Wheeler took the plunge and became an RLSS UK Rookie Lifeguard, shortly after joining her local leisure centre.

Having initially been nervous about signing up to Rookie, she now feels other youngsters could be missing out on a great opportunity.

She said: “I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I signed up to be a Rookie Lifeguard but I am so glad I did. Everyone is really kind and friendly, so our sessions are a lot of fun but I am also learning some amazing skills!

And mum Lisa is quick to praise the awards scheme, having seen her daughter’s confidence develop both in and out of the water.

Monica has always been a quiet girl and hesitant in involving herself in new things,” she said.

But now there’s no stopping her. She gives the Rookie group her all every week and even practices her skills on her brothers!”

RLSS UK National Trainer Assessor, Sharon Hunter, teaches Monica at Stevenage swimming centre.

She said: “The Rookie Lifeguard scheme is expressly designed to get young people into the water, having fun but learning how to stay safe at the same time. It’s been an absolute pleasure to see the change in Monica over the past year. The huge improvements in her self-esteem and confidence, coupled with her passion for sharing what she’s learned, saw us award her ‘Swimmer of the Year 2017.’”

“I feel a lot more comfortable in and around the water now and I’m confident I’d be able to use my skills in an emergency situation. If there are any wannabe lifeguards out there, I’d say why not give Rookie a go?” added Monica.

If you would like to find out more about RLSS UK’s Rookie Lifeguard scheme and how to get involved click here