Meet our Swimming Instructors: the stories behind Vacswim’s dedicated teachers. Part 1.
15 April 2019
Yoharna Rachwal, 20
Independent, Gawler Aquatics Centre
Some people, like Yoharna, are made for the water. At just
20-years old, she's the swimming instructor, lifeguard and senior
duty supervisor at Gawler Aquatics Centre. "I was a water baby and
my Mum was a swimming instructor, so it all started early on. I
went through lessons and then I began competitive swimming at the
age of six.", says Yoharna, who went on to complete the bronze
medallion in her school holidays.
After swimming competitively for 10-years, up to 20-hours a
week, Yoharna ran her first Vacswim program at the age of 14. "It
changed my mindset about how important swimming is in regards to
water safety, rather than just the strokes and the competitive side
of things", says Yoharna.
For Yoharna, the most rewarding part of the program is the
families. "Vacswim is very personal. You meet all the families, and
you see the children develop over that seven days. They're all so
happy because it's very different to Learn To Swim classes, which
are more stroke-focussed and technique-focussed", says Yoharna.
"Vacswim is a bit more fun but still encourages lots of water
safety and education as well. It's a bit different because you get
to learn about other bodies of water rather than just the
It can be hard for kids to visualise the dangers of these
different bodies of water so, in the pool, Yoharna runs group
activities which simulate currents, and communicates the various
rules of the water with the help of visual aids. 'When those are
getting passed around between the children, they start to look at
it all differently', says Yoharna. "Teaching the children water
safety about the beaches and the rivers is really important, and I
think its missed a lot.'
For some kids, even stepping into the water is a huge step, and
one reason why Vacswim lessons are so vital. "There was this one
boy in a class of 10, he had just turned five and was really
nervous about getting in the water," says Yoharna, "so, I worked
one-on-one with him while another instructor took the class. We
just worked our way up, beginning on the steps, and then using toys
to eventually get down lower. It was just the conversations we used
to have about what he had for breakfast and his favourite TV shows,
we just bonded over that. Eventually, we started using floatation
aids and moving through the water and just walking and jumping and
having fun and at the end of the lesson he had a PFD on, and was
doing jumps into the deep end of the pool with the rest of his
Because Vacswim is a unique style of water training, Yoharna
suggests that parents who are new to the program should go into it
with an open mind. "It is a very different program. Its not based
on technique, so it's a lot more fun for the children", says
Yoharna. "I think its super important that parents engage in the
program, whether it be the surf lifesaving one, or in the pools,
because I don't think these skills are taught enough, by parents or
in normal swimming lessons."
Some advice for those looking to get the most out of their
Vacswim experience, "lots of people come earlier to have that free
swim and to get to know the teachers and the other students," says
Yoharna, "and even though it's a water safety program, and we do
simulated activities where we take off our goggles, because you're
not going to have goggles in all environments, I think it's quite
important for some children who've never swum before to have a pair
Yoharna has spent her life in the water, and thanks to the
opportunities offered to her through Vacswim, she'll be sharing her
passion for teaching water safety and skills for a long time to
come. She's a testament to true dedication, and the lifelong
journey that begins in the water--but she's not the only one, read
about Robyn May's personal story here.
All of our talented instructors have something unique to offer.
So what are you waiting for? Get in quick, to enrol your water
babies in this essential learning experience.
If you would like to kick start a career in our annual Vacswim
program it's never too early to apply, click here.