PARC Swim’s very own Shannon Gardner wins Swim Teacher of the Year Award

We’re thrilled to announce that our very own Shannon Gardner has been awarded the prestigious Swim Teacher of the Year Award at the annual ARV Awards! The ARV Industry Awards recognise and reward outstanding achievement and commitment to the industry.

After receiving a Highly Commended last year, Shannon’s dedication and excellence in swim teaching have earned her the top prize in 2024. In celebration of this incredible achievement, we sat down with Shannon for a Q&A session to gain insights into her journey, and to get to know her better.

Join us as we dive into Shannon’s story and discover what makes her an exceptional swim teacher. Read on to learn more about the outstanding individual who has brought pride and recognition to our team.


Q: Shannon, congratulations on winning the Swim Teacher of the Year Award! Can you share with us what this recognition means to you and how it feels to be acknowledged for your hard work?

Honestly, right now it’s pretty overwhelming in the best way possible. Being nominated, having the immense support of the PARC Swim management team, was enough to make me feel thrilled. However, to actually win the state award was surreal. I genuinely love swim teaching and am passionate about guiding students of all ages to achieve goals and milestones, even beyond the pool.

Q: Can you tell us about a memorable moment in your teaching career that you love?

Throughout my years of teaching, I have taught a range of different ages of students; from 6 months to over 60 years. One specific instance that sticks with me was after one of my adult students was concluding her swimming lesson journey. She, at 63 years old, had just decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and take lessons, though, admittedly, was nervous about the process. After one lesson she turned and told me how she felt silly for ‘taking so long’ to learn to swim. She was incredibly grateful for all that she had learnt, however stated that she felt she missed out on so many opportunities to enjoy the water, especially while she travelled around the world, whether that was sitting in a pool or wading in the beach. Whilst I was there as her teacher, a mentor guiding her, I reminded her that she made all her own progress, showing up to lessons, facing fears and giving things a go. She should be so proud of herself and her achievements. I have this some outlook with all of my students, regardless of age.


Q: How do you stay motivated to provide the best experience for your students?

Most of my motivation honestly comes from genuinely loving what I do! Swimming and water safety skills are so important, especially living around water, but I love seeing the process and the confidence my students develop, not just specific to water skills but within themselves.


Q: Last year you took home the ‘Highly Commended’ and this year you won! What is something you have done this year to learn more and improve?

I’ve taken every opportunity to learn and develop my own skills, even if that means stepping out of my comfort zone or thinking outside of the box. Throughout the past year I also completed 3 swim teaching extension courses; teacher of infants, adults and access and inclusion. I have applied the skills and knowledge I gained from these courses throughout all of my lessons. Building rapport with my students is also super important to me, so I’ve watched A LOT of Bluey (although I admit that’s probably more for myself than my younger students).

Q: If you could have any superpower to help you in your swim classes, what would it be and why?

I would love the ability to instill the confidence I have in my students in themselves!


Q: What’s the funniest thing a student has ever said during a swim lesson?

Once a student told me they weren’t able to do their kicking that day because their legs ran out of power at school and had to be “plugged in” to recharge!


Q: What’s your favourite way to relax and unwind when you’re not at work?

In the warmer weather I love going paddleboarding down at the beach and I’ve recently started gardening. However, during the colder months, being cozy on the couch with a good book (or episode of Bluey) gives me a great recharge!

Q: What’s your favourite food, to keep you going during a busy day of teaching?

I love a good chicken and salad wrap!


Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about being swim teacher, or an aspiring swim teacher just starting out in their careers?

Never be afraid to ask for assistance or for ideas, but also don’t be afraid to think a little outside the box when teaching! Regardless of the number of years of experience, we are constantly learning and gaining further knowledge and ideas for lessons. I love the swim teaching community because I’ve found that we are all open to sharing ideas on how to provide the best lessons to our students. It’s such an important job, and I love it.


Congratulations Shannon, we are immensely proud of you and love having you as part of our PARC Swim Team.

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