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Awards explained

As your child progresses, they will receive regular badges and digital certificates.

This will be either an ESA SWIM stage award, an ESA Minnows award (for our younger students), an ESA stroke-specific award or a distance award (ranging from 5m through to 1500m!) This page will explain to you what they all mean.

ESA Minnow Awards

A carefully designed awards for our younger swimmers to work through that teaches them the earliest foundations of swimming skills and abilities. Water safety, basic propulsion and the foundations of individual strokes are all covered in this first award. The badges look great too which our younger swimmers adore! 

ESA Distance Awards

To receive one of our distance awards, your child must have swum the relevant distance detailed on the award unaided. For any distance awards over 25m we expect our students to be able to swim the distance with good technique for their choice of stroke. Distance awards start at 5m and range through to 1500m!

ESA SWIM Stage Awards

The award criteria and test conditions for the ESA SWIM Award Scheme are listed below and can be achieved over a number of weeks:


An ESA 1 swimming class is aimed at beginners that have become confident in the water. ESA 1 Swimmers enjoy learning how to travel around the pool independently, with aids and also teacher support. This stage is for the child that enjoys the water and is happy to submerge and follow simple instructions.


ESA stage 2 swimmers are very confident beginners that can travel independently in the water and float on their front and back. ESA stage 2 swimmers are able to pick up toys under water with their hands, in a depth of over 0.8m. ESA 2 swimmers can blow bubbles and try independent swims unaided.


ESA 3 swimmers can travel 10m on their front and back unaided. The main focus of this stage is breaststroke understanding and breathing control. As well as trying harder tasks, such as sculling and jumping into deep water independently. The swimmers will be strong in the water and understand water safety.


ESA 4 Swimmers will be able to swim Breastroke, Frontcrawl & Backstroke for 25m. Although these may not be perfect in technique yet. The ESA 4 swimmers Journey will focus on improvements of stroke techniques. This stage is also to improve the breathing techniques and timings of the 3 main strokes and start to introduce a Butterfly swim of 15m. We will also cover skills such as treading water, somersaults and pencil jumps into deep water.


ESA stage 5 swimmers should have a very steady frontcrawl, backstroke & breaststroke beyond 25m. They will also be able to swim Butterfly as a complete stroke. The main focus of ESA 5 would be to improve techniques, stamina and show a wide range of aquatic skills. Swimmers will be challenged in these classes and be given the skills to show off their elegance through the water.


ESA 6 swimmers need to be strong, determined and elegant in all 4 strokes. They will need to swim frontcrawl, backstroke and breaststroke for 100m, as well as swim over 25m of butterfly. ESA 6 classes are aimed to improve style, performance and stamina. During these sessions we will be introducing racing starts and turns as well as water rescue skills.

Stage 7

During this stage, children develop quality stroke techniques up to 100metres incorporating the skills they have learned, and combine them to develop a linked routine. They also complete successfully an obstacle course that combines a variety of skills accomplished through stages 1-7.

Stage 8: Competitive Swimming

During this stage, swimmers develop ‘watermanship’ through sculling and treading water skills and body complete rotation. They perform all strokes for 10m to a high standard showing good technique and rhythm.

Stage 9: Competitive Swimming

Competitive racing starts and turns are introduced in this stage as well as refining stroke technique to an even greater level for all 4 strokes. Competitive swimming sets are introduced as well to start building stamina and endurance. Students are expected to be able to swim at least 800m with excellent technique.

Stage 10: Competitive Swimming

By the end of this stage students will have full knowledge of all competitive swimming strokes, turns, starts, relays and races. They will have all necessary skills mastered to a high level in order to start competing for a swim club. We have an Advanced Coaching programme in place, which can be attended upon completion of this stage as a next step in your child’s swimming career.

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