Nemo Swimming announced as finalist in the National What’s On 4 Kids Awards 2019 with Headline Sponsor Morton Michel

The finalists for the prestigious What’s On 4 Kids Awards 2019’ with Morton Michel have now been announced – and Nemo Swimming is amongst them!
These pioneering awards were launched in 2007 to celebrate the UK’s best children’s clubs and classes, along with leaders, volunteers and party providers for children – as nominated and voted for by the experts – parents, carers and parents-to-be.
Over more than a decade, the What’s On 4 Kids Awards have become established as the industry accolade with hundreds of exceptional businesses and individuals in the flourishing sector keen to be part of the action and be in with a chance to be revealed as a finalist or winner!
Now in its 13th year, this National awards programme welcomes the return of headline sponsor Morton Michel and supporters STA and ClassBiz alongside ceremony hosts, NatWest.  Parents and carers logged on to What’s On 4 Kids to cast a massive 80,000 nominations and votes to ensure that their ‘most-loved’ were in the running.
Nemo Swimming is officially a finalist in the Most Loved Sport or Physical Activity category which means they are invited to the prestigious ceremony which will be held by NatWest in London on 11th October 2019.
There are 29 exciting categories in total ranging from ‘Most-Loved New Activity’ and ‘Most-Loved Activity Leader’ across the regions to the highly esteemed ‘Industry Champion of the Year’ which is judged by the Children’s Activities Association Board of Trustees.
Nemo Swimming was founded in North Tyneside in 2009, and delivers award-winning swimming classes for children aged 0-4 years old. Today, the company offers lessons for babies, toddlers, and pre-school children in Newcastle, North and South Tyneside, Coventry and Solihull.
Theresa Nicholson, co-founder and director of Nemo Swimming, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be through to the final of these prestigious awards, and we are so looking forward to the awards ceremony in October. It’s great to see so many local and national providers being recognised as leaders in their field, and we are truly honoured to be among them. Of course, we couldn’t have done this without our amazing customers and staff – so a huge, huge thanks to them for all their support over the last ten years.”
Sue Lee, Managing Director for Morton Michel sent her congratulations: “Morton Michel is thrilled to sponsor the What’s On 4 Kids Awards for a second exciting year.  We know just how dedicated, passionate and hardworking the people who make children’s activities possible are and we are honoured to support these awards that shine a light on the very best.  We applaud all the finalists for making it to the final stages and we cannot wait to celebrate together at the ceremony.  Congratulations from all of us at Morton Michel!”
Nick Howe, Regional Enterprise Manager for NatWest Business Banking in London & South East added: “At NatWest we are keen to support growing businesses – the lifeblood of the UK economy – by being more than just a provider of financial services. We are delighted therefore to be the official hosts for the 13th National What’s On 4 Kids Awards! We congratulate all those many businesses through to this exciting final stage and can’t wait to welcome and celebrate those providers parents have voted the UK’s finest to our London Bishopsgate HQ.”
What’s On 4 Managing Director Sam Willoughby concludes: “Each and every year it’s a pleasure to welcome back so many activities, keen to be part of these National awards once again but it’s also so exciting to see the new nominees from this thriving sector being showcased for the first time. We know from parents’ testimonials how clubs, classes and individual leaders have such a positive impact on the lives of their children and it’s an honour therefore to publicly recognise and celebrate these activity providers in this way. Huge thank you to NatWest, Morton Michel and all our sponsors and supporters as well as the thousands of parent voters for being such a massive part of the What’s On 4 Kids Awards 2019”.

Oh the Grand Ol’ Final of York, will we win again…

You may have heard us shout it from the rooftops already (we are more than a little excited); if you haven’t, then listen up… On Sunday 3rd February 2019, Nemo Swimming was crowned Best Child Orientated Business at the Tyne and Wear Business Awards. We were shortlisted for the award, alongside some incredible businesses across the region, including our friends at Kalma Baby South Tyneside, and Tots Tea Rooms in Wallsend – all winners, if you ask us!

As a result of winning at the Tyne and Wear Business Awards, Nemo Swimming has now qualified for the Grand Final of Englands Business Awards, which will take place in York later on this year. We’ll be there, alongside a handful of other businesses from the region, representing Tyne and Wear at a national level – FINcredible, huh?!

Vote for us at

What did the judges of the Tyne and Wear Business Awards say about us?

The process for judging finalists has been refined the Englands Business Awards team over the last five years. For the 2019 awards, shortlisted businesses were judged based on three elements:

  • Public votes and comments
  • Mystery shopping
  • Site visits

Nemo Swimming had received several nominations from the public, many of whom praised our teaching team, as well as our lesson plans, office support function, and more. The judges, when conducting their mystery shopping and site visits, were also particularly impressed by our team’s “obvious passion that came through when teaching children to swim”.

John Preston, head of the presentation team at Englands Business Awards, had this to say: “The goal of our Business Awards is to identify and showcase standout businesses throughout the country. We found this in Nemo Swimming, being particularly impressed with their professionalism and enthusiasm. We would like to wish Nemo Swimming the best of luck in our national final later on in the year.”

Well, what can we say?! We are beyond chuffed! A HUGE thank you to all of our customers who voted for us, and supported us over the last ten years – here’s to the next step!

Onwards to York!

On Sunday 23rd June, the Nemo Swimming will be hanging up their SwimFins and putting their glad rags on before heading to York Racecourse for the Grand Final of the Englands Business Awards. Of course, we are hoping for another win but we are over the moon to just be shortlisted for the Grand Final – absolutely FIN-credible.
Help us bring this award back to Tyne & Wear by heading to and voting for Nemo Swimming.

Happy swimming, everyone, and thanks again for all your support and votes so far 😊

How singing benefits your baby (and why it plays such an important role in Nemo Swimming lessons)

I never realised how many nursery rhymes I didn’t know until I became a parent. Now, though, as the proud owner of a two-year-old, I have a whole library of lullabies, nursery rhymes, and other songs whirling around my brain. As a new parent, I learned (and re-learned) many songs at local baby groups. Although the songs have changed – ‘Brahms Lullaby’ cruelly pushed aside by ‘Let it go’ and ‘Baby Shark’ (doo doo doo doo doo doo) – my little girl’s love of music continues to grow. This week alone, she came home from nursery singing three new songs; songs that I frantically had to YouTube so that I can perform them on demand.

As babies, toddlers, and even beyond, music has a profound impact on our children’s development. To find out more, I chat to Laura Barker, self-professed music lover and owner of Rhythm Time Newcastle, provider of multi-sensory music classes for babies and toddlers.

Hi, Laura! So, let’s start with how music and songs benefit babies…

Your baby has been listening to your voice since they were in the womb. If you ever tried singing to your bump, or had a sing along to the radio in your car, you’ll probably have noticed that your baby started moving more. That’s because they love to hear you sing. Even if you don’t think that you can sing or if you think you have a terrible voice, your baby will love your voice as it is so familiar to them.

Singing is a great way to communicate with your baby, and prepares their little ears, voice and brain for language. As well as boosting development, music and singing can help to boost your baby’s health, stimulate their senses, and promote neural connections in the brain. It also helps with bonding and the development of reciprocal communication.

Amazing! Are there any particular songs or pieces of music that you would recommend?

Well, simple tunes like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ and ‘Baa baa black sheep’ were always very popular choices in my house when my children were little babies. Now they are a bit older, I hear countless renditions of ‘The wheels on he bus’ and my little boy has even started to make up his own little songs as he plays with his toys!

For babies, the best advice is to keep the music and the songs simple. Nursery rhymes and lullabies sang unaccompanied help your little one to learn how language is constructed; they also carry signature melodies and inflections of our mother tongue, offering a special – yet very powerful – type of speech for young brains.
Repetition is very important for babies, and plays a huge role in their learning. Much as it may drive you mad sometimes, singing the same song every day – sometimes multiple times a day – can help your child feel secure and even more loved!

And what about older children; how does music benefit them?

Music is a wonderful tool, and benefits children of all ages (and even adults). Young babies find the repetitive words and melodies of nursery rhymes and childhood songs soothing and, as they grow into toddlers, these songs provide a familiar and reassuring cue. It’s for this reason – among others, of course – that songs and music play such an important role in nursery, pre-school and even school settings; it’s also why songs are even used in swimming environments where they provide a welcome distraction for little ones who are anxious about going in the water.

For children of all ages, music can accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. Add in a bit of dancing, too, and your child is building their motor skills and practicing self-expression. Of course, one of the other benefits that music brings – and the reason why, even as adults, it plays such an important role in our day-to-day lives – is a real feeling of joy. Just think about how you feel when your favourite song comes on the radio as your driving back from work… I love it!

Thanks, Laura. Really interesting stuff! If you’d like to find out more about Rhythm Time Newcastle, head over to their Facebook page where you can find all the latest news and class timetables from Laura and her team. You can also reach her at [email protected] or by visiting

Written by Emma at Nemo Swimming

Keeping your little Nemo safe in the water this summer

You’ll probably have seen the recent story about Olympic skier Bode Miller’s young daughter who tragically passed away after falling into a neighbour’s pool. Unfortunately, the pain that Bode and his family are experiencing is all too common. A recent survey by the Royal Life Saving Society found that more than 400 people drown in the UK every year – that’s nearly one person every 20 hours. Thousands more have near drowning experiences, and we have seen a few examples of this in the local tabloids recently.

In this blog, Nemo Swimming provides some insightful tips to keep your little swimmers safe this summer.

Drowning prevention: the basics

The first – and most critical – step to child drowning prevention is constant and active adult supervision. Your little Nemo should never be left unattended, and it is important to ensure that whoever is charged with watching them remains undistracted, and knows how to swim well. We’d also recommend that you attend a paediatric first aid course so that you are trained in basic rescue techniques, just in case the worst was to happen.

Where possible, restrict your child’s access to the water. You can either do this by placing a barrier around the water, or by placing a barrier around your child. This advice applies, of course, to any body of water – pools, fish ponds, water features, paddling pools and more.

Building familiarity and confidence

While you, as the parent, are ultimately responsible for your baby, toddler or young child’s safety, there are steps that you can take to ensure that your child develops their own sense of water awareness, which will help them stay safe in, on, and around water. These include water familiarisation, setting rules in and around the water, and discussing water safety with your little Nemo. Nemo Swimming lessons are all about promoting water safety, and your child will already to learning how to move in the water, ‘hold on’, float on their backs, blow bubbles, and be comfortable being submerged underwater. As they get a bit older, we then develop these skills further and start teaching children how to swim confidently without being held by a parent or instructor.

When it comes to water safety, the teaching should never stop. Drowning can occur in children of all ages, and even adults. If you have a child aged between seven and 14 years old, why not check out the amazing Swim Safe sessions that are being organised by the RNLI this summer – ideal for ensuring swimmers are confident and able to stay safe in open water.

If you’d like any further advice about keeping your baby, toddler, or young child safe in the water, then why not give our friendly support team a call on 0191 281 7678, or email [email protected]. They are always on hand to help!

Happy swimming, and stay safe!

Written by Emma, Nemo Swimming

My Perfect Instagram Post (partum body)


It Doesn’t Just Ping Back!

One early morning (as a working parent, getting my social media fix in the cold light of 4am has become the norm) I was flicking through Instagram, when I stopped scrolling. I went back to a post that had caught my tired eyes: a picture of a celebrity (the gorgeous Georgia Jones, to be exact) two weeks postpartum. Yet, this image hadn’t fallen victim to any of Instagram’s delightful filters – only my own quiet disbelief: here, in Georgia’s Instagram post, was a true reflection of a postpartum tummy. It was not an impossibly flat stomach with ZERO stretch marks that I had become accustomed to seeing, but one that could have been easily mistaken for a pregnant stomach. I was so relieved to see it. I saw Georgia later in an interview with Lorraine Kelly defending her Instagram postpartum post: “It doesn’t just ping back!”, Georgia admitted. “You’re not kidding…” I thought. (See Georgia’s interview on Lorainne here.)

Shock Horror! The Reality of the ‘Mummy Tummy’

When I was pregnant, I was practically sedentary because of my size. Swamped with the feeling of carrying a tiny human inside me, I was also swamped with pictures of celebrities who had recently had children. I’d read their experiences: a seemingly straight-forward birth, a remarkably unmarked body post-birth, and each of them blessed with an astonishing freedom to spend ‘quality time’ on themselves. The postpartum stomach I was used to seeing was a tummy that no longer looked like it was about to burst at any second. Clearly, I thought, banishing the ‘mummy tummy’ was achievable straight away – this must be exactly how it happens.

But here was Georgia Jones, proud of her stomach as it still bulged, sharing it with the whole world. I recalled the birth of my child, and remember how I looked down at my own body postpartum.  I was in shock; this was not how it was meant to be!  My body was a train wreck, a horror to behold. After nine months, how could I still look pregnant?  This was not the ideal I had been fed by the media. Yet, looking at my own swollen stomach, I had a reality check: I did not have childcare, I did not go to the gym every morning, I had not been eating healthy salads or drinking nutritious smoothies ‘on-the-go’. I did not have the time; I did not have the energy.

Too Much Information? Sharing the Perfectly Normal Postpartum Experience

My postpartum body was a product of a difficult labour and constant adjustments to caring for a newborn baby.  My body received no love and attention from me: my child did.  My body had been a home for my baby, and was now a source of their nourishment (even if it was a product of very little sleep!)  Of course, I had not just ‘pinged’ back to normal; this was now my normal, and  I was proud that I was still adjusting. I realised that my ‘new’ body should be celebrated: it was the vehicle for the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I accepted that I could make changes when I felt okay to do so, changes that were not determined by any magazine or my preconceived expectations. So, here’s to my perfect Instagram post (partum body) – and yours too!

Do you see Georgia’s post? Or do you have a similar experience? We’d love to hear from you! Follow us on Facebook & Twitter to get sharing!

The post-baby body continues to go viral! To hear more from women celebrating their postpartum bodies, why not check out Emily Marson’s Story and this fantastic blog!


Written by Jill, Nemo Swimming

New Year, New Opportunities: Nemo Swimming joins #FranchiseFebruary!

“Taking the Plunge: Phillip Groom, Theresa Nicolson and Amy Mooney” (Image: Copyright unknown)

The Nemo Swimming family are casting out their net to potential franchisees as part of the National Franchise Exhibition this February!

Nemo Swimming, The National Franchise Exhibition and #FranchiseFebruary.

Nemo Swimming will exhibit at The National Franchise Exhibition, held at The NEC in Birmingham on the 16 &17th February. (Find us amongst a fabulous programme of franchisors, exhibitors and seminars here.)

Following the phenomenal success of Franchise February 2017, the dedicated and experienced team at have created #FranchiseFebruary. The hashtag aims to highlight February as a popular month for franchising enquiries, as well as celebrating the opportunity to ‘enjoy your family life and your career equally’. Here at Nemo Swimming, we couldn’t agree more, and we are proud to be part of such a significant event (find our franchise opportunity featured on here!)  

The Nemo Swimming journey travels: Why are we franchising?

From our unique swimming pathway and our jam-packed lessons, to our press coverage on YouTube and The Chronicle, Nemo Swimming’s award-winning lessons have made us the go to provider for hundreds of children across the North East.

Year on year, we continue to make a splash!

Now it’s time cast the Nemo Swimming net further afield. Our directors, Phillip Groom and Theresa Nicholson, are offering potential franchisees the benefit of their 10 years of experience in the swimming industry.

“Nemo Swimming is a great opportunity to take the message across the country”, Director Phil Groom states. “The journey travels,” he continues, “and we offer the complete pathway from baby all the way up to the age of twelve. This is a fantastic opportunity for a small business operator to run their own lessons in their own area and make a real difference to the world of swimming!”

“We provide our franchisees with comprehensive training and support”, Theresa Nicholson adds, “and we have designed our franchise system to provide everything someone needs to start their own successful swimming business based on our model”.

So, what can you expect from Nemo’s stall at the National Franchise Exhibition? For a start, you will find our dedicated directors and enthusiastic marketing team on hand to talk you through each step of our franchising process. Perhaps you’ll fancy a selfie in our infamous selfie boards? Or even say hello to our inflatable fish? Our stall is a snapshot of opportunity; it will reflect the heart of the Nemo Swimming family and what we will offer to all of our franchisees: a flexible work and family life, a proven business and successful model, and – most importantly – a dedicated and experienced team that will grant all franchisees a solid network of support!

A Shoal of Franchisees: Join the Nemo Swimming Family!

Of course, The NFE Birmingham isn’t the only opportunity to become a franchisee of Nemo Swimming – join us here to find out more.

Stay afloat of our swimming (and selfie) fun, and follow our tails (get it?!) from Birmingham on Twitter and Facebook.

Is swimming a good bonding activity?

Throughout all of my time looking at the vast array of activities that I could participate in with my baby, swimming really stood out. Yet, swimming was one of the most daunting. Swimming meant being in water, not on dry land, not on a flat dry surface.

Swimming is a bonding activity you can do that allows skin to skin contact. The holy grail of early years parenting. As it is a water activity it allows your child the freedom of movement and due to it being a weight bearing exercise there is no additional strain on their little body’s. No guilt that you are pushing them too far, too quick. They will do what they can using their own body as an aid. This is the incentive for a parent if they have anxiety prior to entering the water themselves.

Coordination is a skill that is developed early on within the lessons, they have toys to play with, reach for, hand back and pass on. Playing games in the water can be lots of fun! Swimming strengthens their body and when they are very young they tend to be stationary for long periods of time during the day, the swimming lesson can allow them to move quite freely.
Taking a baby swimming allows you and the baby to build up a strong and immense bond during this intimate activity. Trust builds up between you and the baby as there is 100% attention required always and there are no distractions. Modern daily demands can be put aside for the lesson as no mobile phones are allowed! Both you and your child are included in the lessons, you are a team mastering the skills set out by the Instructors.

Taking your precious bundle in their first lesson environment can be intimidating however a good swim school will put you at ease. It felt to me that my hand was literally being held every step of the way. No question was too big or too small. Confidence grows week by week as Instructors give you praise and encouragement.
Be warned you are likely to turn up half an hour early and with the worlds heaviest changing bag. That is to be expected, other parents give you a reassuring smile. Flashbacks to their similar experiences.

Early swimming with your child can help put your child at ease in the water, they are less likely to be apprehensive in later life. If they are familiar and comfortable to this environment so early on in their life it can only help to dispel fear later. For me it is not just about water safety within the water itself but how to behave on poolside, do not run, watch where you are going, be mindful of hazards are all things of vital importance.

I hear from other parents that holidays take on a slightly different tone, they can spend time with them in the water practising some of what they’ve learnt in the lesson. Being around the pool becomes a focus and can only enhance the relationship between you and your child.

As your little one grows the support network within the group of caregivers and children becomes apparent. The familiar smile, the knowing nod compliments the encouragement given in the lessons. Alongside this the children learn from very early on about taking turns, waiting for their go. This is reinforced through all their lessons and as they grow older. They also learn to interact with others and build friendship groups based on a shared interest.

Of course, all this additional exercise can only lead to something us mothers crave, improved sleep for baby – and hopefully us. Their little body’s work hard during a lesson as well as their brain. A post swim sleep is an added bonus!

Swimming is an activity of choice born out of the need to feel like you are participating in something “healthy” but which also gives them so much more. A life skill.

Building your own confidence in the pool

When you take your baby swimming you may think that it’s all about you helping your baby develop and learn water safety skills. What you may not realise, is how good it is for both of you and as a family.

Not only does it give you a great bonding experience with your little one but it helps you build up your confidence in the pool, in 2 ways.

You may be fearful of the water or not a very good swimmer which is why you have decided to bring your baby to lessons. If this is the case; then a massive well done to you, for overcoming your fear and worries. You have made the right decision for your baby but also for yourself.

Our baby lessons are structured and progressive not only for the babies but also for you; the parents. The lessons will help build your confidence of moving in the water to eventually submerging your head, to see your little one swim under the water. However, we would never make you go under the water, if you didn’t want to.

Our instructors are there to help you and you will find them very supportive, reassuring and encouraging. Most of the parents from our lessons; who had worries about being in the pool, found they reduced or disappeared as the lessons progressed!

You may be confident, unconfident or fearful of the water but within our lessons you will learn: how to hold your baby, safety and various fun activities to practice a wide range of swimming skills. This will help your baby grow confident and eventually independent in the water. You will also gain an understanding of why the skills are taught. All of this will give you the confidence to try these skills and activities in your local pool or explain them to your partner, so that they can be involved too.

Swimming is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family, building up your confidence slowly alongside your little one will ensure you all gain a love of the water for the rest of your lives.

Why children who swim from birth are safer swimmers

Babies have just spent months in fluid within the womb, so getting babies started early in the water will help them to feel this familiarity again. As children get older they tend to develop a ‘fear’ of swimming and water.

Starting early helps a baby feel comfortable in the water, it helps to build their confidence, teaches them respect of the water and if your child is partaking in lessons then they will learn lifesaving skills.

You might question ‘how can my baby learn lifesaving skills so early’? Babies and children learn very rapidly and through repetition as well as watching others. Getting your child to hold onto the side, become comfortable with submersions, float on their backs and learn to blow bubbles under the water are all essential lifesaving skills.

If your child has been to lessons then they would have an understanding of how to react if they were to fall into a body of water, such as a pool, pond, lake or the sea. They would know to either hold their breath or blow bubbles under the water (depending on their age) and kick up to the surface.

This confidence, understanding and ability ensures the child does not panic. Going under the water will seem natural to them and they will remain calm. Most children, who have never been taught, would panic upon hitting the water. In this panic, they may cry out or try to breathe under the water which could result in a drowning incident.

Children who have had lessons (depending on their age and ability) will also understand what to do once they have returned to the surface. Some may swim to find something to hold onto and either climb out or continue holding on. If whilst swimming, they need to take a breath, they can roll onto their backs to take a breath and then continue swimming until they reach safety.

Children who are taught from birth have an understanding of their own ability and a greater natural affinity for the water. Whether you have taken your child to swimming lessons from birth or not, being vigilant and within arm’s reach of your child around water, will help prevent any incidents from occurring.

How to keep your child safe in the water

Secondary drowning: what to look for and how to keep your child safe.

Drowning is the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK, according to the Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS). There has been a lot on social media on secondary drowning and consequently concerned parents asking the question during their child’s swimming lessons. Questions such as what is secondary drowning? Can submerging my child cause this? How can I prevent it from happening and what are the signs and symptoms of secondary drowning? Below should address your concerns.

What is secondary drowning?

Secondary drowning occurs when someone inhales water and it enters their lungs. This causes irritation and starts to prevent the lungs from oxygenating the blood. ‘Near drowning’ is the term given when someone has been under the water for a period of time or struggling to keep their head above the water and consequently take a breath, inhaling the water into their lungs. Secondary drowning can occur in both adults and children but is rare.
Signs and symptoms of secondary drowning
The signs and symptoms can occur 1-24 hours after and are not immediate. There are some websites that state the symptoms can be days after the incident.
• Immediately after the incident the person may cough and then seem completely fine.
• Breathing gets faster and the person is working hard to breathe
• Coughing
• Chest pains
• Vomiting
• Extreme fatigue
• Changes in behaviour
Can submerging a child within a Nemo swimming lesson cause secondary drowning?
Within supervised lessons, the submersions are baby/child led and no child will go under if they are not ready. The number, depth and duration of submersions are limited as per STA (Swimming Teachers Association) guidelines.
With these guidelines, structured plans and supervision from trained teachers a child will never be put in a situation where secondary drowning can occur.

How can I prevent it from happening?

Always remain vigilant anywhere near a body of water, whether it is at the beach, a local pool or paddling pool in your back garden. Swim where lifeguards are present and never let a child swim alone. Teach your children basic water safety, get them enrolled onto lessons and be aware of signs and symptoms. If your child has had an incident of ‘near drowning’ in the pool, go and get them checked out at hospital.
Swimming is a fun activity that everyone can enjoy. It is a great family activity and If you are aware of the dangers then accidents are preventable. Don’t get yourself overwhelmed with secondary drowning as it is rare and now you are aware of the dangers you can get swimming safely. Go have fun and enjoy!