There is a Swimming School with branches in Central London, and South East London that teaches children and adults how to swim. It is called “Goggle and Giggle” a name which stands out, and was chosen by parents of the children being taught by the team of swimming instructors.
The business is owned by Abena Gray who used to be a lifeguard. While observing users in the pool where she worked, Abena realised there was a need for one-2-one swimming lessons because so many people were struggling in the pool. There were group lessons of varying standards around, but the ultimately the most effective method of teaching was private tuition.
Established in 2010 – over 5000 students taught by Goggle and Giggle Swimming School.
Abena, whose parents are from Jamaica, started to take on a few clients, and soon became fully booked. Then she took on staff to assist with the demand, and Goggle and Giggle was formed. The name was suggested by parents and children who are long term clients. Now in 2020, Goggle and Giggle has taught over 5000 children and adults; Her youngest clients are 2 years old, and the eldest is 84. The 84 year old, could not swim 2 years ago. Now he does 100 laps a week, and has brought his children and grandchildren to learn to swim also.
Some people are surprised to see Abena when she turns up for the first lesson – because she is black. Abena recalls turning up to meet a new family for tuition at their private home pool in central London. The father was visibly taken aback, and asked her if she could swim. The parents actually stayed to watch in wonder. Observing her expertise, they realised that yes a black person can swim, and she can teach other people how to swim. They then decided they wanted lessons, every day.
Many people buy a pool for their home, but hardly ever use it, and they don’t know how to swim. The children have the perfect situation to be able to practice swimming regularly, but they just splash about in the pool. Goggle and Giggle offers private home tuition, for those who have a pool. Lessons take place across London, and even abroad. The Business has taken on clients who want an intensive one week, or two weeks of lessons, around the globe.
Swimming a Life Skill
Swimming is an important life skill and it was important to me that children learn to swim. It is easier to learn as a child, and many parents are choosing Goggle and Giggle and have never looked back! They have even joined Goggle and Giggle themselves, to improve skills or learn swimming from scratch.
One parent says “The team is fantastic, so attentive, so professional and tune to your own individual needs. My daughter has been swimming with Martin for about 3 years now and her progress has been fantastic! She always enjoys her lessons and always comes back with a smile on her face.”
Teaching Adults and Children
Adult swimmers have also found Goggle and Giggle invaluable in their own journeys. Below are some of the flowing reviews of the company.
One client states:
“So, I motivated myself and enrolled for the beginner adult group lessons as I never learned to swim as a kid. And here again thanks to Abena and her fantastic team my progress has been outstanding , I still cannot believe what I have achieved in the space of a few months. I am currently improving my front crawl, back strokes and learning the butterfly stroke!!!”
I cannot recommend them enough! Don’t think twice just give Abena a call you won’t regret it! I have now also enrolled my little toddler and I can’t wait to see all the family swimming together.”
One client gave a team member amazing praise.
“Martin has amazing in depth technical knowledge. He is a great motivator. He takes time to understand each of his students. He is utterly brilliant.”
Another parent was so happy.
“Jackson went from zero to super swimmer hero in a short space of time. Thank you so much for your excellent and accommodating service.”
And yet another parent…
“Abena and Sinead have taken Milo from terrified of the water to thrilled to be in it. And they have turned Lara into a graceful, powerful swimmer. They adapt their methods to suit your child’s nature, and find the way that they learn best. They are also a lovely, warm team and a joy to deal with.”
Black People Do Swim
In 2012, for the first time three black American swimmers joined the US Olympic team when it traveled to compete in the London games. Several other black swimmers have taken part in various world competitions. However, in the UK, it has been reported in 2020, that 95% of adults and 80% of children of African or Caribbean heritage do not swim.
Abena contradicts the theory that black people do not swim. She herself has taught adults and children, from complete beginners to those at more advanced levels, such as triathletes.
Alice Dearing, a black woman, is one of Britain’s best open water swimmers. The 22-year-old was on target to become the first black woman to represent Great Britain in swimming at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2020 – until it was postponed to 2021. Besides her Olympic dream, Dearing has an even bigger challenge to face as the lead ambassador for the Black Swimming Association (BSA), a charity which has been launched to encourage more black people to swim.
This is also an ambition of Abena – to enable more black people to swim, and she is on her way to doing this. At the moment 99% of her clients are white, but she will shortly be starting a campaign to encourage more people of colour. She feels that everybody can get fit and have fun while learning a very useful life skill. She also wants to give back by encouraging a group of black women to swim or learn to swim for an hour a week, at no cost. Contact her for further details. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Abena has the following qualifications:
ASA Levels 1 and 2 Swimming Teacher, ASA Level 1 Swimming Coach, NPLQ Lifeguarding, NVQ Level 2 in Sport and Recreation at Richmond upon Thames College and BA (Hons) in Business Management at Open University.
As well as teaching enthusiastic learners and athletes, Abena uses various methods to deal with people who are water phobic, and also takes on swimmers recovering or living with long-term illness
Where to find Goggle and Giggle
Locations for the swimming school are:
- YMCA Club, 112 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3NQ (Saturday and Sunday)
- Marlborough Grove, London, Bermondsey, SE1 5JT (Monday, Tuesday and Friday)
- Home and private Premises visits by Request
For more about the Swimming School, visit goggleandgiggle.co.uk