Hazel’s Story

Hazel’s Story

Across Lleisure we have a wonderful team of volunteers who help to deliver a wide range of activities and skills to residents across the Broxtowe borough.

Hazel, a level 2 swimming teacher at Bramcote Leisure Centre is one of those amazing volunteers who kindly donates her time each week to teaching children to swim….an important life skill that 1 in 3 children have not learnt by the time they leave primary school.

We asked Hazel to tell her story, and what made her volunteer to support Lleisure.


Hi, I’m Hazel, aged 46, and a Level 2 swimming teacher at Bramcote Leisure Centre.

I had previously spent many years working in hospitality and retail, before leaving work due to health purposes. I was diagnosed with 2 long-term health conditions within 9 months, and soon realised that I would have to rethink my career plans as I was no longer able to work in the way I once could. This is how my journey into becoming a swimming teacher began…

As a child, I only had an opportunity for swimming lessons as part of the school curriculum. Aged 8, I experienced an incident in the pool and my fear of deep water was born. At age 41, I decided to overcome my fear and signed up for a year of swimming lessons. I was determined to have the confidence to swim in the deep end! Admittedly, I cried on the day of my first lesson, as it brought back memories of my experience as an 8 year old, but pretty soon I realised that my confidence was increasing by the minute once in that environment.

One of the teachers at Bramcote Leisure Centre, Marie, sat with me and talked me through a few things we’d try on my first lesson which really helped to understand what would be happening ahead of doing it for the first time in years. After entering the water, I demonstrated my basic knowledge of breaststroke and backstroke, and as the lessons went on Marie helped me to improve my technique and lesson by lesson I ventured closer to the deep end…something I had dreaded for years!

By week 7 I had completed my first full length from shallow end to deep end. I was so proud of what I had achieved!

With my new found confidence, I wanted to help others feel the same sense of achievement that I had. It was during one of my lessons that Marie overheard me attempting to help another participant. Afterwards, she told me that I’d be great at teaching and what a sense of pride and satisfaction you have at being able to support others achieve their goals. I knew right away that this was something that I had to do.

I signed up to become a volunteer at Bramcote Leisure Centre and started supporting 6 swimming lesson classes per week teaching children to swim. As I enjoyed my time more and more volunteering, I knew that I wanted to take this commitment further. The team approached me to see if I would be interested in furthering my development and completing a Level 1 Swim Teaching Assistant qualification. Excitedly, I instantly said yes!

By the end of February 2022, I was a Level 1 qualified teaching assistant and couldn’t wait to get started in my new role.

Just 18 months later, still loving every minute of what I was doing, I was again asked if I would like to further my development once again, this time progressing to a Level 2 teaching qualification. Jumping at the opportunity once again I agreed and a few weeks later proudly owned a Level 2 and NRASTC certificate…something that I would have never have dreamed off just 5 years earlier when I was sat crying before entering the water for the first time in 30+ years.

If anyone had told me 5 years ago that I would find a love for swimming and a passion for teaching, I would have laughed until I cried. But now? I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I am filled with joy at every achievement I see the children making…from apprehensively getting in the pool for the first time to performing a dive perfectly.

But none of this would have been be possible, or as rewarding and enjoyable, without the unwavering support shown to me by the team at Bramcote Leisure Centre. Who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t taken those adult swimming lessons?

My message would be that it is never too late to change or challenge yourself. Step out of your comfort zone and overcome your fears. You may be surprised where it takes you!