Swimming – “Teacher Education”
Governing bodies were established to promote and develop sport and initially, in most cases, this was achieved through the establishment of a range of competitions.
The S.A.S.A. was no exception and it created a comprehensive competitive structure “to promote and encourage the knowledge of the art of swimming.” However, swimming was more than a sport and so for obvious safety reasons, the S.A.S.A. was also involved in swimming education.
Swimming teaching was carried out at swimming clubs and in some schools and various groups of people were involved including Physical Training Instructors, Bath-Masters, Janitors, Swimming Club officials and parents.
Inevitably, the quality of their teaching varied enormously, so to establish an acceptable teaching standard the S.A.S.A. became involved in Teacher Education in the 1920s.
It was the first Scottish National Governing body to get involved in this kind of work, but unfortunately it met with mixed fortunes because it spent too much time on Certification and not enough on producing suitable Training Courses.
In 1924, the Association introduced a Voluntary Teacher Certification Scheme and candidates were required to pass the following examination:
Part (a) – In the Water
(i) the candidate must give a practical demonstration of swimming (a) on the breast, (b) on the back, (c) on the side, over or under arm, (d) trudgeon stroke, and (e) trudgeon crawl stroke. A minimum distance of 20 yards to be covered by each method.
(ii) The candidate must dive from the surface and recover an object from a depth of at least five feet.
(iii) Dive from two heights not less than three feet and six feet respectively.
Note: In all the above tests, neatness and not speed will be taken into account. Points will be awarded in accordance with S.A.S.A. rules for Graceful Swimming and Diving Championships.
(iv) The candidate shall show how to teach a person to swim by taking a pupil into the water and giving a practical demonstration.
Part (b) Out of the Water
(i) The candidate must satisfy the examiners of his ability to explain the following swimming strokes: (a) breast, (b) overarm, (c) back, (d) trudgeon and
(e) trudgeon crawl, including the effect of proper and improper timing of the strokes. He must also be able to demonstrate suitable drill for teaching the breast and back strokes.
(ii) The candidate must also satisfy the examiners of his ability to explain the points of a good dive and how to execute a surface dive. He must also be able to demonstrate how to teach pupils to breathe properly, and to explain the advantages of such breathing.
(iii) The candidate will also be required to explain the best method of teaching a class of pupils, and may be required to give a practical demonstration of the teaching.
Ten marks were allocated to each of the seven tests. Candidates had to gain five marks on each to gain the certificate. They also had to hold the Royal Life-Saving Society’s Bronze Medallion.
The content reflected existing attitudes towards swimming as it was still regarded as “the natatorial art”.
For beginners and improvers, acquiring gracefulness and good style was far more important than developing endurance and speed and the content also offers an insight into methods of teaching. It was quite common for teachers to enter the water to offer advice, support and demonstrate to pupils.
The S.A.S.A. took the responsibility for establishing the content of the Examination, but it delegated everything else to the Local Centres.
Each established a Special Examination Committee, which fixed examination dates (at least twice a year) and looked after all the other necessary arrangements.
In three years up to 1927, only one candidate, J. Greenlees (Glasgow Thistle) took and passed the examination.
The S.A.S.A. thought that the poor response was because the examination was too stringent and so in 1927 it made some changes. Two grades of Certificate were introduced. The Practical Diving and Surface Diving tests were removed from the original certificate and this renamed Certificate A. In Certificate B the Practical Diving was changed and the marking regulations revised. A mark of 75% in each test represented a pass.
The changes were widely welcomed, but in the next seven years only two candidates took and successfully passed the examination. They were Frank Punchard (Dunfermline College) and Bessie McLean (Belmont).
Eventually the Association realised that potential candidates required some training and so the District Associations were encouraged to get involved.
They arranged evening lectures and demonstrations which met with a good response. In 1934, 10 certificates were awarded, 18 in 1935 and by 1939, 67 people held the certificate. The Association, after a false start, had begun to have a significant influence on teaching standards.