Swimming coach Steve Betts is no stranger to success in the pool; we chat to him about what makes the GWA (Singapore) Swimming and sports programme so strong for kids of all ages and abilities
GEMS World Academy (Singapore) has fast made a name for itself with its state-of-the-art facilities and top-notch teachers. Case in point: physical education teacher, Aquatics programme coordinator, and Swimming coach Steve Betts, who’s built a successful track record of swim coaching in Singapore and beyond: He’s coached at the Olympic level with the Brazilian and Kuwaiti National teams, and also coached a YMCA team in the United States to the Junior National Championship. We sat down to find out a bit more about the sports programme at GWA and creating strong swimmers at every age.
First off mama, let’s talk about their amazing sports facilities. GWA has got an all-weather, full-size football pitch (complete with spectator seating!) along with a fabulously versatile indoor sports hall that includes four badminton courts, a championship basketball/volleyball court, and a spectacular 15m high rock climbing wall. Kiddos get to use these facilities both with regular physical education classes and as part of GWA’s extra-curricular and competitive sports programmes.
Then there are the swimming pools. GWA has its own 50-metre Olympic swimming pool with eight lanes, along with a movable bulkhead that can create two 25 metre pools. There’s also a dedicated all-weather learner pool where beginner swim classes are taught (the all-weather part comes in handy during Singapore’s many thunderstorms!). The Learner Pool has a depth of only 80cm, which makes it more comfortable for younger students and those nervous about getting in the water for the first time.
At GWA, Swimming is compulsory for all students from Pre-K through Grade 5, and every student has Swimming class once a week, with classes progressing on a level-by-level basis. Students in Grade 6 and above have Swimming once or twice during the school year as part of their Physical Education curriculum.
Classes are taught in the Learner Pool Monday through Thursday and occasionally on Friday. Almost all students enjoy the swimming classes, Coach Betts says, although naturally some children are stronger swimmers than others and some of the younger children are a bit nervous at first.
In addition, GWA has a swim team that begins practicing in September and concludes in late May. The team has over 50 members and ranges from 6-year-old novices to ACSIS champions! The coaches regularly move the bulkhead to the full 50-metre length and leave it there for several weeks, to prepare for “long course” competitions and to stretch and strengthen students with the more challenging length.
Depending on their comfort level, GWA students can choose from a Beginning Swimming programme, an Intermediate programme to prepare for the Competitive team, and the Competitive Swim Team. Steve Betts coaches during each of the three ECA sporting seasons, and two other teachers with extensive competitive swimming experience assist as well.
Watch this space, mama! This sports juggernaut is also working on Water Polo. While GWA doesn’t have a competitive team as of yet, they’ve introduced it in some of their PE classes and it seems to be a hit with water-loving kiddos.
GWA’s swimming programme has so many benefits for kids both in and out of the pool, mama: most importantly it helps them become water safe (a huge concern when so many of us live near swimming pools!), but what’s even cooler is that lots of kids discover an aptitude for the sport that they never realised before. What’s more rewarding than seeing children gain confidence and increase their self-esteem by improving skills in a new area? You never know, you just might have the next Joseph Schooling on your hands; isn’t it nice to know there’s an experienced coach like Steve Betts to guide their progress?
For more information or to find out how your child can become part of the world’s largest and most dynamic educational family, arrange a school tour of GWA today!
GEMS World Academy (Singapore), 2 Yishun Street 42, Singapore 768039, Tel: (+65) 6808 7300