Neil Bailey Swimming

Project Thunderbirds Collaboration

The collaboration between Neil Bailey Swimming and BEJSC came about for a number of reasons. From the project’s inception, Neil was keen to ensure the pool became an asset for the local community, and as such wanted to ensure equal ownership went to a local children’s sporting body.

Prior to starting Neil Bailey Swimming, Neil volunteered as a swimming coach for BEJSC for over 18 years. Initially, Neil Bailey Swimming acted as both a feeder and an employer for the swim section, by teaching children to swim up to pre-club level, and then offering teaching assistant roles to the older members who were keen on carrying on their swimming career after BEJSC. Much of the business’s growth was down to the many members of the teaching staff who were ex-BEJSC competitive swimmers, and the customer base, which was also grown by Neil’s outstanding reputation as a coach at BEJSC. As such, the business retained close ties to BEJSC, and Neil saw this project as the perfect opportunity to achieve his goal of teaching as many children in the local area to swim and to swim well, whilst giving something back to BEJSC.

History of Neil Bailey Swimming

Neil Bailey Swimming was established in 2009 by Neil Bailey, a qualified ASA instructor, who felt that the local area lacked good quality, ‘no-fuss’ swimming lessons for children. The company is focused on its ‘family values’ ethos, teaching children to swim as if they are members of our own family, and internally training staff to teach with skill, passion and enthusiasm. Neil’s mission is to build a team to teach as many children in the area to not only swim, but to swim well.

Neil Bailey Swimming prides itself on inclusivity and offers lessons to all children over the age of 3 and adults, regardless of ability or disability. At present, we teach 700 people to swim a week during term-time and over 1,000 during the school holidays. On average, 1 in 7 of these swimmers have additional needs, yet we feel that we have the potential to reach out to many more with access to a purpose-built facility. Neil Bailey Swimming also prides itself upon its fantastic internal staff training, which provides support and mentoring to teens and young adults keen on learning to teach. We actively encourage over 16s involved in the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme to volunteer with us supporting the teaching staff and find that many stay on. Over the years we have successfully mentored over 30 staff, building a skilled and reliable team. At present, the company operates from two local school swimming pools and two private pools. However, usage restrictions, planning constraints and school politics prevent us from expanding further and reaching a larger audience.

Having spent a number of years supporting and fundraising for swimming pool rejuvenations in the area, Neil Bailey Swimming still faced barriers to pool use. Neil initially approached schools in the area with the offer of support to upgrade the swimming pool facilities. Whilst many were interested in the potential pool projects there were limiting factors that prevented these projects from becoming a reality. These factors included; schools changing to academies, classroom upgrades taking priority, sites with flood risk and lack of experience and management.

Having reached out to a number of schools, yet still struggling to gain suitable pool time, Neil Bailey began researching purpose-built swimming facilities (not leisure centres or school-run swimming pools) and found there is a distinct lack of examples in the Bourne End/ Wooburn Green area.

This initial research triggered an ambition to create a swimming pool with the sole purpose of teaching people to swim, and to swim well.