Erin Ridgwell from Banstead has been voted the best swimming teacher in Epsom & Ewell, winning the first round of a national competition.

Erin, 24, has been teaching at the Rainbow Leisure Centre for 6 years and is qualified to teach from Adult & Infant classes all the way up to competitive swimming. She teaches Monday to Friday across a wide variety of sessions including Preschool, private lessons and Adult & Toddler classes and was nominated by a combination of pupils, parents and work colleagues, all of whom were impressed by her dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to her job.

More than 700 nominations were made nationwide and Erin will now go through to a regional semi-final. If she is successful she will then go forward to a national judging day to take place at former Olympic venue, the London Aquatics Centre in Stratford.

The initiative is the brainchild of leisure operator and charitable social enterprise Better, which has been managing the Rainbow Leisure Centre in partnership with Epsom & Ewell Borough Council for over 15 years and a total of more than 140 swimming pools across the UK. Better is the biggest provider of swimming lessons in the UK, employing over 1.400 swimming teachers and running more than 18,100 swimming lessons each week.

The Swimming Teacher of the Year Award is also being supported by the Swimming Teacher’s Association (STA) and Speedo, representatives of whom will make up part of the final judging panel.

Commenting on her win, Erin said: "I feel very honoured to be nominated. I find my job as a Swim Teacher very rewarding and enjoy seeing pupils progress during their time with us. I actually became a Swim Teacher after qualifying as a Lifeguard, was offered the opportunity to train and have never looked back."

Rainbow Leisure Centre General Manager Darren Pope added: "Erin is a hugely dedicated and hardworking individual. She has inspired and encouraged a wide range of swimmers to enjoy and benefit from their time in the water. She is able to make even the most nervous swimmer feel comfortable and confident in the water, while encouraging the more able to progress and hone their skills."

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