News | 7 May 2024
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Making a splash in teaching career with SwimWell

What started off as an after-school job at SwimWell has turned into a strong foundation for a teaching career. In four years, instructor Olive Shadbolt has taught over 600 students – even seeing some go from the infant programme right through to school age.

Person in a blue top standing in a swimming pool holding onto pool inflatables.

Teaching has always come naturally to Olive. They say it all began when a friend’s little brother caught them doing origami in their school library. 

“I ended up teaching him how to do it and soon all his friends came along, and soon it became a regular weekly thing.” 

Olive set their sights on secondary school teaching and when they searched for a part-time role as they were finishing college, they came across the opportunity to work as an instructor at SwimWell – the perfect role for their transition between leaving school and starting university. 

“I wanted to do a role that gave me the skills I needed for my future. This was a different form of teaching experience which let me learn on the job and study at the same time. I get to study while learning on the job.” 

With a goal to eventually get a masters in teaching or a graduate diploma, Olive has been studying at Victoria University Te Herenga Waka and working part-time at both Keith Spry Pool and Wellington Regional Aquatic Centre. They say that it’s been a valuable experience alongside their studies as they are learning to work with different groups of people.

“I teach around 100 students a term. I started off working as an instructor, but I am now also a supervisor. I run adapted lessons, which are for children who have specific needs, adults, infants, and also some of the new staff.

A child swimming down a pool lane with an instructor in blue standing next to them.

“All of our staff get at least part of their training through me and I'm currently in the process of writing a new training module for the infant programme. One of the things I have focused on doing this year is putting a lot of our training online so that new instructors can go through that instead of having to shadow people all the time – it makes it more efficient.”

In the past four years, Olive believes that their confidence has grown immensely and cemented their love for working with the community. 

“Teaching is great but it’s the children I love! I started out teaching three- and four-year-olds, and now they’re seven and eight. There are infants who are now close to starting school. It’s been so great seeing them develop their confidence in the water.

“I like to give the students agency to own their lessons – they select the equipment they need. I’ve learnt in my own experiences that teachers can change your life. When you go to the pool, it’s your own safety and your body. Through swimming and being in this role, I’ve learnt a lot about how my own body works and understand now how motion and muscle go together. It’s empowering to share that with others, especially those in our adult classes.”

Pool instructor wearing a blue swim top standing in a pool.

Olive loves their role and says the team make it so easy to have flexibility with everyday life. 

“I was able to change shifts around to suit my studies, and there has been so much growth in my years at SwimWell. For those who are thinking of joining the team, just know that I haven't stuck around for four years because it's convenient – it’s a fulfilling job!”

Working for Wellington  

We're always looking for people who share our passion for Wellington, and want to help us make our city an even better place to live, work and play. Find out about job vacancies, employee benefits, and what it’s like working for Wellington on our careers webpage or check out more details about SwimWell on our website