Shirley, AQUAnimals Founder. Shirley as a youngster was a Frontcrawl and Butterfly specialist in competitive swimming. Having represented at County and District level she turned to teaching and coaching in a bid to pass on knowledge and experience to younger swimmers at a time where Diss Otters Swimming Club was growing rapidly. For fourteen years Shirley coached in the evenings whilst working as an Account Executive by day for Insurance Brokers before starting a family with her husband Jamie. AQUAnimals the brand was established by Jamie who is also a coach & teacher about 8 years ago. Shirley brought this to life in 2015 when we began hiring pools in the South Norfolk area to provide specialist, small class swimming lessons. AQUAnimals grew in strength and demand for lessons with a well established reputation, turned into a need for more pool time. So we built our own pool! Project manager by day, mummy and wife in between, we now have a state of the art pool, in lovely modern, fresh environment with the best of the best equipment. We are welcoming, friendly and provide a lessons with a smile. Shirley loves teaching Baby & Pre-School classes and has a lot of fun with the after schoolers too!
Katie – has been teaching / coaching swimming since the age of 16 years old. Katie started off swimming competitively for Diss Otters Swimming Club and progressed to qualify as Level 3 Club Coach at the age of 18 years old and coached at Diss for 12 years. Katie over the last couple of years since having her little girl has taken up teaching after school swimmers for AQUAnimals and is looking forward to the new times ahead with our family run business. Katie, is Shirley’s lovely big sister.
Sophie – Joined the team in August 2017 at our new pool. Sophie, also a past Diss Otters competitive swimmer teaches Baby & Pre-School classes during the week and our school age children from Stage 1 – 7. Sophie has a lovely gentle, welcoming approach to classes and has a wonderfully patient nature. She’s incredibly flexible and the most reliable person we could ask for, not only as a staff member but a certainly a friend. Sophie recently took on the huge role of Coordinator for our scheme of work & delivery development for the Adult & Child classes (2mths to 3.5yrs classes). Sophie develops themes that go hand in hand with the Swim England Outcomes to make lessons fun and progressive. This is passed to the team who as a result streamline our delivery through the week.
Jamie – Past Head Coach at Diss Otters by evening and works full time at Norwich City College as a Teacher for students with Profound, multiple learning difficulties. Jamie has to be the most patient person around. He gives anyone his time and always has a great point to add to any discussion. His passion is additional learning. Jamie wants to improve his delivery, be at the peak of his game and have the most up to date knowledge on all aspects of swimming. Very well respected around Norfolk & Suffolk, a gentle giant and a gentleman. An all round great swimmer, still holding the odd club record and trains very early mornings! Jamie will always delivers and adapts his lessons to get the best out of the children.
Hannah – Joined us back in 2019 having swum with both her children at AQUAnimals and decided to qualify and come on board! Hannah’s friendly and encouraging approach develops swimmers to progress and really enjoy their lessons. Favourite classes have to be the 2-3.5yrs for Hannah as they’re so active and really have a good giggle with her. Adaptable and sensible, Hannah is someone any business would be glad to have on the team, especially in an industry where reputation is so important.
Valerie – Is Mum to Shirley & Katie. Valerie provides a lot of our private lessons with her eye for detail but also welcomes children on Sunday morning to her lessons. A woman of multi talents, by day worked for McLaren in the automotive industry and now a specialist dog trailing instructor. Whilst Shirley and Katie were swimming training as youngsters, Valerie volunteered as a coach for many years before qualifying as a teacher and coach herself. Valerie is brilliant at confidence building, technical improvements and gives her time willingly to benefit others that need just that wee bit more help.
Kayley – Our newest addition to the team, bringing the biggest smile you’ll see in the pool. Kayley qualified back in 2018 and thrived ever since in the Baby & Pre-School lessons. As a past early years practitioner she is skilled in the social and educational development of babies and young children up to the age of five years old. Encouraged by her late Nanny to utilise her friendly and nurturing personality, Kayley thrives in the pool.
“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford