From Baths to Boogie Boards – Aqualife

From Baths to Boogie Boards – why swimming is more than just a sport, by Penny Watkins, founder of Aqualife Swimming, the leading independent swim school in Sevenoaks

Water and emotions have a unique and interesting relationship – water has the ability to relax and soothe or invigorate and excite. And how we feel about water and what emotions it invokes will of course be individual. But I truly believe that in the right environment, everyone can learn to love the water and that the physical and emotional benefits can be truly amazing.

It was on a beach in Greece 20 years ago, when I was teaching a group of students how to snorkel, that I knew a different approach to the traditional swimming lessons was needed.

I had a very nervous student who was petrified of water but desperately wanted to join in with the snorkelling. After the lesson and whilst he was floating around in shallow water, I asked him how he was getting on: he replied, “I can’t see anything”. It turned out that he had his eyes shut. After some further support, he finally put his face in the water and started to look around. He suddenly stood up, tore off his mask and started shouting about all the fish and underwater life – he was laughing and crying at the same time, saying “our planet is beautiful”.

I was so moved by the joy he was experiencing that it became very clear to me that a holistic method of teaching swimming was what was needed. Using the spirit of the aquatic world, I now create imaginative, factual lessons inspiring people to learn to swim and enjoy the many aquatic options that were available to them.


Your Aqualife

Aqualife structure lessons around real life, educating on safety and how we interact with the water.  From the very beginning in our parent and child classes we introduce personal safety skills, aquatic awareness and teach an understanding of how to look after others and ourselves in the water.

We believe each swimmer is unique and therefore each is treated as an individual. Classes are kept small to ensure the best possible learning environment for everyone.

As well as the key skills for learning to swim, we introduce a variety of additional aquatic skills such as:

  • Snorkelling
  • Lifesaving and first aid
  • Boogie boarding
  • Synchronised swimming
  • Water polo
  • Triathlon

These optional elements in our swim classes enable swimmers to develop the areas that they most enjoy and have the opportunity to try alternative disciplines.

More than just sport

Swimming and the additional aquatic activities are not only enjoyable, but provide a multitude of physical and mental benefits. They allow you to develop water safety and survival skills, builds strength, muscle tone and assist with balance and coordination. However, the benefits of swimming reach beyond the physical, providing several positive mental benefits as well.

  • Enhances mental development
  • Develops confidence
  • Boosts social skills
  • Support a stress-free lifestyle


For more information on the unique approach that Aqualife Swimming takes, visit

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