Book aims to take the fear out of learning to swim for youngsters

Maureen Bennett with a copy of her book, Learn to Swim with Lily and Leo Picture: JIM KEENAN

Maureen Bennett with a copy of her book, Learn to Swim with Lily and Leo Picture: JIM KEENAN - Credit: Archant

Learning to swim can be a daunting experience for young children.

That is what inspired retired swimming teacher, Maureen Bennett, to pen a book to help quell the fear - well before the first visit to the pool.

Learn to Swim with Lily and Leo is designed to provide a 'structured' swimming lesson, illustrated with fun characters, to prepare youngsters for their first dip.

And with summer holidays just beginning and seaside trips on the horizon, 65-year-old Maureen, who has lived in Overstrand for the past five years, believes swimming is an essential skill every child should have.

She said: "Going to a pool for the first time can be quite scary for young children with the noises and unfamiliar smells. I have taught hundreds of children over the years and 90% don't want to be there - they sit on the side of the pool and cry.

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"The book is designed to be read before a child takes to the swimming pool and the idea is to give encouragement by introducing them to what to expect."

The book is illustrated by Pamela Williams, who Maureen met at a creative writing course.

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It is aimed at children aged from three upwards and the pictures, featuring main characters Lily, Leo and swim teacher Miss Monkey, have been created to appeal to youngsters.

In the story, floats are depicted as turtles while noodles are represented by friendly snakes.

"In one picture the children are looking down at the fish in the water, which illustrates that you have to swim with your face in the water," Maureen said.

However, there is a serious side to the book, which is especially relevant during the summer months when water is such a draw for children.

"Swimming is an important life skill," added Maureen, who learned to swim when she was five years old and admits she loves it so much she could "live in water".

"We live in an island nation surrounded by water and everyone should learn to swim - not just for themselves but also so they would have the ability to help if they saw someone else in difficulty in the water."

Learn to Swim with Lily and Leo is available via and at

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