About us

Starting Blocks Swim School was set up in 1993 by Christine Thompson. After running swimming crash courses Christine felt the need for a regular swim programme to allow students to become confident and safe in the water, learning to swim at their own pace.

Christine has 30 years teaching experience, she is qualified coach level with a background in both competitive and non-competitive swimming. She has a diploma in psychology and has successfully taught many people to learn to swim.

​Starting Blocks was based at The Cavendish School and Kings Langley School, we now operate from The Astley Cooper School and The Holiday Inn Hemel Hempstead.

We offer small group or 121 classes for ages 3 upwards and all abilities. ​

All our teachers are qualified Swim England L1, L2 and higher and have a wealth of experience & knowledge in teaching swimming.

Starting Blocks is managed by Christine’s daughter Charlotte, who is a L1 swim teacher and an experienced club swimmer who has competed at both county and national level.

A message from Charlotte:

“Swimming is something I am passionate about, I swam from a very early age, my first experience was at 18 months when I decided it would be a good idea to go down a swimming pool slide fully clothed! My mum telling me “No” but at that age I didn’t even know what that meant. Off I went into the pool and as my mum describes it, I curled up into a ball shape and floated in the water, until my mum came and rescued me from the water.

I learnt to swim at starting blocks along with my sister and my cousins. We all kept it up and swam for Hemel Hempstead Swimming Club competing at both county and national levels.

Swimming is a great social sport, we mixed with lots of people from different schools and it kept us fit and healthy.

Learning to swim meant that I was safe on holiday and at the local pool, my parents were able to trust I could be responsible in the water on my own or with my sister. It also let me take my swimming further and I really enjoy taking part in mixed sport events such as Biathlons, Triathlons and Biathels – part of the modern pentathlon. We have great connections to the local clubs if its something you or your child wishes to progress to.

Knowing how many people my mum has been able to help to teach is inspiring, most people I know or have met in my life seems to have been taught by my mum and I want to keep her legacy alive and continue to help others to learn to swim.”

Charlotte & Christine

Astley Cooper School Pool