AS children embark on their summer holiday adventures, a local swimming teacher is encouraging parents to ensure their children know how to swim and be safe in water.

Over the last 14 years, Andrea Douglas, from Bicester, has taught hundreds of children and parents how to swim at her swimming class, Aquatherapy.

The 47-year-old set up Aquatherapy in 2005 and has since taught what she believes is a valuable skill to children.

She said: “Being in water is a wonderful experience and great fun but it’s dangerous without life saving skills or being able to swim. Everyone should learn to swim, whatever their age, it’s never too late to learn.

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“It’s important that children are safe when around swimming pools, rivers and lakes.

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“Every year children drown in ponds and pools as we can’t watch them all the time, but learning valuable water skills can help prevent this from happening.”

The swimming teacher, who holds her lessons at Bardwell Pool in Bicester, says the best age to start learning how to swim is from just a few weeks old and teaches parents how to familiarise their newborns with water.

Her Aquababes class is a programme specifically for 0-2 year olds and their parents that involves swimming, life saving skills and relaxation therapy.

Soothing music is played to stimulate the child while teaching key swimming skills.

Mrs Douglas’ main method that she teaches is the ‘Shaw Method’ which is all about alignment of the head, neck and back, keeping the body stress free and moving through the water with ease.

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Unlike other more common teaching styles, Mrs Douglas does not use floatation aids in her classes.

She said: “They inhibit movement and put the child out of alignment, off balance and gives them a false sense of security which impedes progress.”

Her other classes include Aquakids Beginners, Aquakids Improvers - where they learn front crawl, breast stroke and back stroke,- Aquakids Improver+ and Aquakids Advanced - where more difficult styles are taught such as butterfly, as well as diving and long distance swimming.

She also runs two classes for adults.

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Mrs Douglas, who has more than 25 years’ teaching under her belt, previously worked at Ormerod School in Headington, Oxford where she taught children with disabilities how to swim.

She quickly became known as a swim specialist and trained staff at other special schools in the area.

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It was only when she had her own daughter in 2005 that she decided to leave the school and set up Aquatherapy.

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She said: “I wanted to be with her everyday and watch her grow but I still needed an income, so I left the school and started Aquatherapy.

“My daughter would come to work with me and after teaching, I would spend time with her in the pool.”