Diving into a Passion: Sue’s Journey as a Swim School Teacher

“Being in the water teaching is definitely my happy place, and I would love to keep teaching for as long as I can.” - Sue


Since February 2023, Sue has been a dedicated swimming school teacher at AUT Millennium, embarking on a fulfilling path that intertwines her love for teaching with her affinity for the water. Reflecting on her background as a swim teacher in South Africa, her journey began at 24 years old after transitioning from the travel industry. Working with various swimming schools before founding a family-run swimming school, she discovered her passion for teaching and nurturing young swimmers along the way.  

Moving from South Africa to New Zealand was a significant leap, driven by the desire to provide her family with better opportunities and a brighter future. It wasn’t an easy decision, leaving behind the beauty of South Africa but embracing the possibilities that awaited in NZ, where swimming holds a vital place in the culture and safety around water is a top priority.  

The transition brought noticeable differences in the teaching environment. In South Africa, Sue was familiar with smaller, family-owned swim schools, whereas AUT Millennium presented a bustling hub of activity with its diverse programs and facilities. However, amidst these differences, the core principles of teaching remained steadfast — making lessons enjoyable while ensuring students learn and develop essential swimming skills.   

One challenge she faced in South Africa was dealing with load shedding. Load shedding is when the power utility in South Africa is unable to produce sufficient electricity and must cut supply to various suburbs/areas at different times to save electricity. This would affect maintaining ideal swimming conditions, especially during outdoor lessons. Luckily Sue’s swim school in South Africa was indoors but it did affect the water temperature as the heat pumps were unable to run and keep the water warm. This was made worse in the winter months when the temperatures plummeted (Johannesburg can get below freezing sometimes), and there was no power to run the heat pumps. When it happened in the late afternoon/early evenings the pool area became dark, and eventually resorted to battery-operated LED lights in the pool area so we could continue their classes. Despite such challenges, Sue’s passion for swimming teaching was more of a priority than her comfort which is so inspiring!   

The most rewarding aspect of her role is witnessing students’ progress and successes. Sue fondly recalls Kate Robinson’s journey in South Africa, from initially fearing the water to becoming a confident swimmer, symbolizing the transformative impact of her teaching. Similarly, in NZ, Sue is such an amazing swimming teacher, teaching from babies to adults. One of the most rewarding areas of her career here in New Zealand is guiding adults through their swimming journey, from overcoming fears to mastering strokes, which has been immensely gratifying.  

As a successful swim teacher, Sue embodies qualities such as passion, patience, continuous learning, and adaptability. While her immediate goal is to continue teaching and inspiring young swimmers, she also aspires to mentor future swim teachers, passing down the wisdom and experiences gained throughout her career.  

Beyond the pool, Sue treasures moments with her family, whether it’s relaxing with a good movie, immersing herself in a captivating book, or engaging in lively conversations about swimming with her twin sister, who shares her passion and dedication to teaching but is based in the South Island.   

In essence, Sue’s journey as a swim school teacher transcends geographical boundaries, encompassing a commitment to instilling confidence, nurturing a love for the water, and creating lasting memories for students, wherever the tides of her career take her.  

AUT Millennium is so lucky to have Sue on our team!