Puddle Ducks Swim Academy - Swimming Lessons in Killingworth & across North East England for Children aged 4-10 years

*This is a paid collaboration

If you'd mentioned the words 'Puddle Ducks' to me a few weeks ago, an image of babies and toddlers learning to swim with their parents/carers in a warm pool with games, splashing and fun would come to mind. I honestly had no idea they offered swimming sessions to older children too. Heidi and Jack were invited along to a beginner's session in Killingworth a few weeks ago to get the lowdown and we were actually very impressed. 

My history with swimming lessons is not the best to be honest. Personally it's not my favourite activity to do with the kids and when I do take them swimming, it's always reluctantly. I attended swimming lessons myself as a child and can swim and once I'm in the pool it's fine. The thought of it all just puts me off. I did take the kids swimming when they were younger but it wasn't exactly a regular thing. I signed my eldest Harry up to swimming lessons with our local council pool when he was 5/6 and it was a huge hassle. First of all, a bizarre signing up ritual meant you had to physically attend a signing up session at something like 7am on a Sunday morning and then you were allocated a class without any choice. Ours wasn't at a convenient time and we weren't allowed to miss a session which did not fit in with our lifestyle. I didn't think the tuition was the best either with a man barking orders from the side of a pool. Harry didn't really progress and it felt like a huge waste of money. He attended swimming lessons with school and although probably not the most confident, he can swim now and he has no fear of water as demonstrated by the numerous slides he tried when we visited a Water Park in Florida this year but I do think I could have done things differently. 

Because of my bad experience with Harry, putting Heidi and Jack through any kind of swimming lessons just didn't cross my mind. During our holiday this summer our hotel's swimming pool stayed open until midnight and the kids would spend the evening practising in here. Heidi managed to teach herself to swim a little without armbands and Jack did increase in confidence but still had a long way to go - he's not ready to leave the safety net of water wings behind just yet. 

When Puddle Ducks got in touch and offered Heidi and Jack the chance to put a Swim Academy lesson through it's paces I must admit I felt a little guilty - I think as parents many of us are guilty of providing the best of experiences to our first born and then kind of neglecting future children and not offering them the same opportunities.  I was so pleased that we were offered this opportunity and saw it as a chance to see if there was a better alternative to school/council lessons I was used to. 

Puddle Ducks Swim Academy in North East England - What to Expect from a Level One Session

First of all, I was amazed at how many pools across the North East offer swimming lessons with Puddle Ducks. There are actually 18 pools in total (check out the full list here). Our nearest pool was at Percy Hedley School in Killingworth. It's a lovely little pool which is privately hired for exclusive use during a Puddle Ducks session. It's a lovely temperature (35 degrees) with 11 family sized changing rooms and parents are allowed to sit on the bench poolside (you need to take your shoes off or wear the covers provided). The depth of the pool is 1.3 metres and the sessions include 2 teachers (who are in the pool with the kids) with a maximum of 8 children attending. As a little side note I love that the Puddle Ducks website provides extra info on their website such as the nearest cafe and play park. A lovely little touch I think. 

There is a session for all abilities (check out Percy Hedley's Puddle Ducks Timetable here) but as Heidi and Jack had not attended any lessons before and it was their first time, I decided to book them onto a Swim Academy Level One Session which started at 3:45pm on a Sunday. Percy Hedley has a large and free car park and we arrived 10 minutes before our lesson to get changed and then waited poolside for the session to begin. Swimming caps do need to be worn but these can be provided if necessary and children should bring their own goggles too (although again there are spares). I really appreciated Heidi and Jack being able to take part in the same session as it was a far better use of my time than having to attend twice. 

As soon as the session started I could tell that this was going to be a lot different from the council sessions I was used to. Here are a few points that really stood out: 

Fantastic Staff 

It was clear from the outset that the staff at Puddle Ducks are very well trained and have super high standards. There are two teachers and up to eight children and I liked that the staff addressed (and knew) every child by their name. I think the staff had just the right balance between firm and friendly. It's a difficult skill but the teachers were able to keep the children's attention, stop them from messing about and also fully engage them in their activities.

Best use of time 

Sessions are taught as one class and then individual skills are perfected in smaller groups with each teacher. Because each teacher only ever has up to four children in his/her care at one time, the classes are fast moving and children do not spend much time waiting. Every single opportunity is used to develop a skill, for example, once jumping in is perfected, children are encouraged to roll and swim back rather than just swim back. There's a clear curriculum and I'm confident that children will progress quickly because of this.

Staff in pool

Having the staff in the pool was a real plus point for me and definitely made all of the difference. Although I was poolside, I felt a lot more confident about my children being in the pool without a floatation device knowing that there were adults in there and it really helped with Jack's confidence too. I'm not sure he'd have swum to the opposite side of a pool on his back had an adult not been standing behind him the whole way. 

Fast development 

During our 30 minute session Heidi and Jack covered lots of skills from blowing bubbles to back stroke and rolling in the water. Jack isn't the most confident and still needed to hold the teacher's hand as he jumped in but she really helped to build his confidence and by the end of the session he was almost jumping in without her. If we visited again I'm sure he'd nail it. Some strokes and methods are taught using two pool noodles which is quickly reduced to one noodle and then no floatation devices if the child is ready. I honestly sat in shock as I watch Jack perfect a backward breaststroke - I didn't know he had it in him and I was super proud. Heidi was also properly swimming at the end of the session. She was already very borderline/was able to swim a bit on holiday but I don't think I'd witnessed her swim as far as she managed in this lesson. 

Kids enjoyed it

Finally, and probably most importantly, Heidi and Jack both thoroughly enjoyed their Puddle Ducks Swim Academy Session. They were beaming as they left the pool, full of confidence and it was just lovely to see. They really enjoyed themselves and want to go back so fingers crossed I can find room in our diaries to make this happen. 

Sessions last just 30 minutes but they are so jam-packed that it felt like it was longer. Heidi and Jack left the pool and begged us to go back next week. In all honesty, I wish I could take them back next week but our diary is so crazy with Christmas events that we'd miss so many sessions and it would be a waste at the moment. I have agreed to look at it again in January time though when my diary is a little quieter so watch this space. 

There's no denying that Puddle Ducks Academy is an investment - it's £17 per session and they are bookable in 8 lesson blocks via recurring payments (so for Heidi and Jack to join it would set me back £136 each). When you compare this to other local swimming sessions though it is very competitive and actually only a couple of £ more than what I paid for our council swimming lessons 6 years ago which were of a far inferior quality in all aspects. I also like that you are paying for sessions and not weeks so there is a degree of flexibility there which is fab for families like us who are likely to miss a week here and there. From my experience, when you book with Puddle Ducks, you really are booking the best and I am confident your child will make good progress and you won't be wasting your money. 

Puddle Ducks North East run so many sessions across the North East and it's impossible for me to let you know about them all. There's something for everyone from aqua natal to baby and toddler classes and then the Swim Academy which is suitable up to age 10. I would love to see Heidi and Jack progress through the academy right up to level 6 and gain their 100m badge. How cool would that be? 

Swimming is good for health, good for self-esteem and fun too. I would say if we found any faults with our experience with Puddle Ducks but in our experience, it was all very positive.

Have you tried Puddle Ducks before? Let me know if you'd recommend or fancy trying a session. Please direct any specific questions to newcastle@puddleducks.com , visit the Puddle Ducks Website here or call Puddle Ducks North East on 01661 824 191.



  1. I had no idea they had swim lessons for older children either. Sophia attended a baby swim class & I was so impressed, I really wanted to book her lessons but it was just before Jacob was born so wasn't possible. Now she is 4 I have been thinking of booking her lessons as she is not at all confident in water and likes her feet to touch the bottom. Sounds like Heidi and Jack had a great time xx

  2. I wish I'd signed Emily up for baby swim classes. She was quite fearful of the water when we were on holiday this year. Lucas also struggled with swimming until he had a lesson with a Commonwealth Gold Medal holder and then he was away! It's amazing the confidence it gives them x

  3. We've just started Puddle Ducks classes with Gabe - he's two and he's only been in a pool a couple of times before (definite second child thing - I took Toby to baby swimming for the whole of my maternity leave) and after three weeks of crying we had a brilliant lesson today. I agree the instructors are brilliant and I really hope we can carry on with Puddle Ducks until Gabe is a confident swimmer. #TriedTested


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