As part of their series of ‘Brazilians that rock’ interviews, which document Brazilians who are making headlines for all the right reasons, BBMag asked our Founder Eduardo Ferré a few questions about how he conceptualised and established Swimming Nature. Having had an interesting and celebrated past, which includes winning various business accolades such as Time Out Business in 1995 and the Innovative concept of the Year in 2014, BBMag was keen to discuss Eduardo’s background and history. Take a read of the interview below.
BBMag: Tell us a little bit about your story, where you come from, and when and why you came to London?
Eduardo Ferre: I studied Physical Education in São Paulo, and, once I graduated, I decided to visit the UK with a friend, mostly to learn English.
BBMag: Where did the idea of opening Swimming Nature come from?
Eduardo Ferré: I’d say the business came about “organically”. As my English improved, I began giving swimming lessons in Kensington. I guess I was in the right place at the right time. My job was to teach students in groups, but then parents started asking me if I was available for private lessons, and through word-of-mouth I started to build my own client roster. I worked alone for a few years before starting Swimming Nature and focused on my students’ private and individual needs. The business model just naturally evolved from there.
BBMag: Tell us a little about working at Swimming Nature and the training method you’ve developed.
Eduardo Ferré: In the UK, lessons are usually about 30 minutes a week, and this time constraint presents big challenges in terms of ensuring that students realise genuine progress. I tried out a number of approaches but ultimately developed my own teaching method which allows students to internalise the information and movements needed in the pool. From there, I standardised the methodology, defined the programmes, and designed my own reward system and controls to monitor student and teacher performance. Years later, I conducted the world’s first survey about “learning to swim”, at the University of Edinburgh. Today, we teach about 5,000 students a week and employ over 150 staff.
BBMag: What are the main hurdles when it comes to learning how to swim?
Eduardo Ferré: When we work with students in the water, we need to think of ourselves as therapists. We need to take into consideration the fear factor associated with water and the right kinds of movements that mitigate that. Therefore, the main hurdle, when it comes to the educational aspects of swimming, is the depth of training we have to provide our teachers; it’s imperative that they understand and fully adopt the company’s core philosophy of respecting the challenges that learning to swim and improving one’s technique present.
BBMag: What advice would you give young people looking to start their own sports-related business here in the UK?
Eduardo Ferré: Have focus, professionalism and perseverance.
For more information about Swimming Nature, visit our website at www.swimmingnature.com, where you will find further details about our award-winning method, as well as classes for children, babies and adults.
We were lucky enough to have Ed Accura, the producer and star of the recently re-released feature film documentary called ‘Blacks Can’t Swim’, co-founder of the Black Swimming Association and host of the podcast ‘In The Deep End’, tell us a little about himself and any exciting projects he is working on. Accura has relentlessly campaigned for attention to be drawn to prejudices where learning to swim are concerned, and is now working on finding ways to solve the problems that many Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people face.
Q1) So Ed, please can you tell us a bit about yourself, and your background? How exactly did your feature-film come about?
I was born in the UK, and left to live in Ghana when I was around 9 years old. I only returned to the UK when I was around 18 or 19, having never learnt how to swim. I only started realising that this would be an issue when there was a party at one of my friend’s houses, who happened to have a pool! I asked my mum if I could go, and she refused as it would have been unsupervised. Learning how to swim had never been a priority for me in her eyes, and instead she was keen on me studying the hardest I could, so I didn’t go.
When I came back to the UK, swimming was never something I needed or wanted to do. If anyone asked if I could swim, I would say ‘of course I can’t I’m black’! I knew about all of the stereotypes, and I knew a lot of others who would use it as an excuse too.
Q2) Leading on from this, how exactly did your film come about? Can you tell us about the plot of your documentary too?
Well, it was only until August 2018 that I started to see that my situation needed to change. At this time, I went on holiday with my wife and daughter to Barbados, along with some of my friends who are originally from there. During our stay, on a particularly nice, hot and sunny day, our group decided that they wanted to go out on a catamaran. As they were planning on diving and snorkelling, I wasn’t going to go, but at the last minute I changed my mind. Whilst we were out on the sea, we were all given a lifejacket, and I kept mine on the entire time. Everyone who could swim had started dipping in and out of the water, and I was left alone on the boat and was very bored. I decided to fill this time by writing a song about swimming, using the film ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ as my inspiration, but instead focusing on black people and their supposed inability to swim.
I brought this song back to the UK with me, and one day got a message out of the blue from a company called Swimming Nature. They mentioned that they wanted to teach me how to swim, in an effort to highlight the number of black people that think they can’t. In order to do this, they mentioned that they wished to document the swimming journey I would go through. Strangely, around the same time, my friend had suggested we make a film about the same topic! We all joined forces, and I sat down to brainstorm the main story. In the film, I see a news report about flooding, and panic. Instead of learning to swim, I decide to wear a lifejacket all of the time. Two forces have comments to make about this decision – my friends and family say that it’s ridiculous, and ‘Mr Society’, who represents society as a whole, says that I’ve done the right thing due to me not having the right physical makeup.
Q3) Why do you think that so many people in the UK black community of minorities are unable to swim?
Mostly, I think there’s a lot of stereotypes and myths that are prevalent in our society. The main issue with black and ethnic minorities deciding not to swim is their choices where prioritisation is concerned! This is why as part of the campaign, I decided to highlight swimming as a life skill, and I try to get people to understand that they shouldn’t be scared of water. Instead, in reality, they should be scared of not being able to protect themselves from the water, and this is where the issue lies.
Q4) What can we do to change this as a society?
Well, I saw the film as being an equivalent to releasing an elephant from the room. This whole issue is one that has been around for generations, but we don’t talk about it – instead we laugh about it! I thought this would be the time for change, and it’s been a long time coming. For example, Africa has the highest drowning rate, followed by Asia, and we need to resolve this. I’ve put so much effort into this project so that this will be the end result, as every black or ethnic person should be made aware of these statistics.
Q5) Can you tell us about your own personal experience with swimming, and how you came to swim in the first place?
I’m currently learning to swim with Swimming Nature, and my instructor Mark Trude is just awesome! I think it’s so important that the swimming teacher understands and sympathises with the fact that many ethnic minorities think they can’t swim. Alongside this, they need to be patient, which Mark is especially.
A story that Alice Dearing told me, whilst I was interviewing her on being the only black swimmer on Team GB, springs to mind – apparently, a black lady was told by her instructor that she had a big bottom and heavy bones, and this is the reason why she was struggling to swim. This is complete nonsense! There’s so many stereotypes out there, like having heavy bones, and yet nothing has been proven. Instead, it just gets to the point where people think ‘oh well I’m black and I have heavy bones, I can’t swim anyway, so why should I bother’. So in my mind, it’s clear that whoever the instructor might be, they have to understand this issue. I can truly say that Mark does, he’s amazing. He’s managed to eradicate any fear I have, so that I can trust the water.
Q6) How exactly did the project take off? And what has recently happened as part of your podcast?
Straight after the initial release of the film, things really took off. I had close to a thousand requests from people who wanted to watch the documentary, from Australia, Africa, Asia… all over the world! At first, the only place you could request to watch it is on the website, www.blackscantswim.com. I set it up so that people had to fill in the online form when they visited the site, and then I sent them a link to watch the whole thing. Now, if you wish to watch the documentary, it’s being streamed to a global audience via Amazon Prime, Apple TV and Hulu amongst other premium digital movie services.
Overall, the momentum is great. However, I have never wanted it to get the point where people would get tired of my voice, and there was only so much I personally could say on the matter. I needed to find a way of getting other people to share their stories, and that’s when I came up with ‘In The Deep End’, my podcast. On this platform, I interview influential people who are black or from ethnic minorities so that they can tell their story about swimming. I feel as though this will encourage more people to pay attention, as another big issue we have with swimming is the current lack of role models. It’s a well-known fact that you can’t be what you can’t see! So the more people we see that are swimming, plus the more people we get talking about swimming, the greater the chance of us actually doing it is. This is incredibly important for the younger generation in my eyes, as my ultimate aim is to get more people swimming and less drowning in the near future.
You can read about Ed’s projects by visiting www.blackscantswim.com. More information on the Black Swimming Association which Ed co-founded alongside Alice Dearing, Seren Jones and Danielle Obe can be found by visiting https://www.thebsa.co.uk/, and Ed’s personal social media pages are full of useful resources:
If you are interested in swimming lessons, we are more than happy to help you on your journey, no matter what age or stage you are at. Our teachers specialise in teaching non-swimmers, and we understand the importance of encouraging the BAME community to confront their fears and any underlying stereotypes. You can find more information about lessons by visiting www.swimmingnature.com, or book by visiting https://book.swimmingnature.com/enrol/.
Earlier this week, Swimming Nature took the decision to temporarily close its doors based on the rising concern we had for the health of students and teachers alike.
For all of those who’s lessons have been affected by this decision, please rest assured that we have taken the measure to apply class credits to your Swimming Nature accounts. In addition to this, Swimming Nature recognise that there is very little certainty as to how long all of this will last and so we have extended the validity of all credits to twelve (12) months and also added the option to gift your class credits to close friends or families that you think would benefit from learning to swim.
The UK Government started the week by advising social distancing and later announced that by Friday 20th March all schools will be closed. With the expectation that the UK Government will impose further sanctions for the safety of the population, we are very happy with how we positioned ourselves, as well as the extremely positive response our teachers and customers have had.
We want to take this time to wish everyone the best in what we expect will be a trialling period in all our lives. Please keep safe, well informed and comply with the recommendations set out by the UK Government and British Health Organisation.
Hopefully we will be able to resume lessons as early as 20th April 2020, however, we will continue to post updates as things unfold. To keep informed, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
When the temperature drops during the winter, it can be incredibly tempting to stop taking your little ones to the pool for their swimming lessons. This time of year is full of frosty mornings, unpredictable rain and chilling winds, which all make the idea of cancelling your plans and starting to hibernate very appealing!
However, doing so can stunt the progress your child has made in their swimming, and begin to affect their health. If you want to learn more about this, take a look at our list of four reasons why you should push yourself to take your children to their lessons.
1) Sharpening Their Safety Skills
The retention of skills and safety information is the number one reason to keep children swimming during the colder months. If they can continue to build on all of the techniques they have learnt by continuing our programme in December through to March, then your child will definitely be a stronger swimmer when the warmer weather returns!
Alongside this, swimming all-year round means that your little ones will be able to apply the basic skill of swimming to real life situations. This ensures that they know how to stay out of danger, as the quick response which is needed when falling into water does not become innate without practice. In return, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your child can fully enjoy all the fun water-based activities when summer finally comes round again.
Healthy by Boosting Their Immunity
Have you heard the old wives’ tale about going out with wet hair making you sick? Maybe you’ve always trusted your parents and grandparents on this, but it’s probably time to start second guessing their slightly old-fashioned, but very common, belief. In reality, swimming during the winter can markedly improve children’s immune systems, in turn reducing their risk of catching a virus! It turns out that damp hair is really nothing to fear.
Winter swimming can also improve children’s all-round physical health. You may have found that your child gets restless during winter, which is mostly due to them not being able to stay as active because of the cold weather. Swimming is a great way to ensure that they remain fit, whilst being in an indoor environment! Keeping active is so important for good health and well-being, and it should be maintained throughout the year, not just during the months when the weather allows for it.
Their Brains Grow
As well as being a good way to improve
physical health, getting the kids out of the house and into the pool during
winter has been proven to benefit their psychological health and development! This
is due to the very nature of swimming, which centres on rhythmic and bilateral
strokes. This way of moving your body helps to connect neurological pathways in
By not attending swimming lessons
during the winter, it invariably leads to a child being unable to perform at
the level they were at. In turn, this can cause a decline in their confidence. Continued
participation in the colder months is the only way to prevent this! This
particularly applies to children under the age of four, as for them a
significant break from swimming can lead to a noticeable decrease in their
Can you think of any other reasons to keep your little one swimming during the winter? Let us know in the comments.
For further information on our private one-to-one or two-to-one swimming lessons, visit www.swimmingnature.com or call us on 03445 040506.