Alliance Wavebreakers is the learn to swim programme of Alliance ASC, the North Belfast swimming club. The primary aim of the programme is to provide children in North Belfast with the swimming skills necessary to keep them safe and healthy in the water. We hope they'll go on to enjoy swimming for life.
The programme runs on Friday evenings at the Belfast Royal Academy pool on Cliftonville Road, Belfast. The costs of the programme are subsidised by the club in order to keep prices low, while also ensuring that group sizes are small enough to allow young swimmers quickly to develop water confidence and great swimming technique.
We base our lessons on the Swim Ireland Child Learn to Swim programme, which offers progressive and comprehensive learning for the young swimmer. Up to level 3 - the stage by which children gain basic competence in the water - lessons are taught in groups with a teaching ratio of around 3:1, with teachers and/or teaching assistants in the water with the children. Thereafter, group sizes are kept to a maximum ratio of 6:1 with teachers and teaching assistants usually on the poolside better to oversee the swimmers' stroke development.
On 'graduating' from the learn to swim programme, swimmers can choose to join the swim club and to develop their competitive focus in a friendly and supportive environment. The club also offers a 'swim-fit' stream, and can point its swimmers towards local opportunities to get involved in life-saving and water-polo.
Alliance ASC was formed in 1946 by a group of North Belfast locals after an outbreak of polio closed all the public pools in Belfast. The group swam regularly at Macedon point on the north foreshore of Belfast Lough. More than 70 years later the club is still thriving as the only competitive swimming club in North Belfast.