Jane Lawson from Woodside has been voted the best swimming teacher in Croydon winning the first round of a national competition.

Jane teaches at Thornton Heath Leisure Centre and South Norwood Leisure Centre and has been delivering learn to swim lessons in the borough for twelve years. Jane teaches six days a week and works on swimming programmes with local schools, Better Swim School provision as part of the learn to swim pathway and also delivers specialised sessions for children with special education needs and physical disabilities. She was nominated by a combination of pupils, parents and work colleagues all of whom were impressed by her dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to her profession.

More than 700 nominations were made nationwide and Jane 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 operates eight sport and leisure facilities in Croydon 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, Jane said: ‘I became a swimming teacher because I've always loved to swim, having swum at club level myself. I’m really passionate about my job and I particularly enjoy seeing children progress through our learn to swim programme, gaining confidence as their swimming abilities improve.”

Nick Englefield, leisure centre manager at Thornton Heath added: “Jane is a hugely dedicated and hardworking individual. She has inspired and encouraged a huge 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.”