'Pool Of Champions' swim teacher who converted ‘Aquaphobes’ among the winners at Flame Awards 2017

Better Swim Teacher Harley Hicks, based at the London Aquatics Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, has been acknowledged for his outstanding service to his local community, receiving the Spirit of Flame prize at the 2017 Flame Awards in Telford.

Part of ukactive’s annual conference, the Flame Awards celebrates innovation and excellence in the health, fitness and physical activity sector - recognising individual achievements, exceptional facilities and outstanding organisations.

Harley was the recipient of the Spirit of Flame Award – in celebration of his continued efforts to encourage communities and individuals to become more active through swimming – including those terrified of water.

Better is the customer brand of the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise, GLL. Since joining GLL in 2010, Harley has worked across its swimming programme, from introducing non-swimmers to the Better Swim School programme at venues throughout the London boroughs of Hackney, Waltham Forest and Tower Hamlets, through to coaching the development squad at the London Aquatics Centre.

In addition, Harley has worked on a number of other local initiatives, designed to make people more active through swimming, including introducing non-swimmers to open-water swimming.

Reflecting on his award, Harley said: “It feels great to be recognised across the sector for my work and I'd like to thank everyone who voted. Having started as a Lifeguard through the GLL Apprenticeship scheme 8 years ago, I would never have imagined I would be an award-winning Swimming Teacher and Swim England Tutor today.

“Over the last 18 months the Swim London programme has been a 'beginner to swimmer' machine powered by a small team of teachers, myself and the GLL Aquatics Team - with help from Swim England. We have taught over 250 adults (many of whom were completely aquaphobic) to swim using unique teaching methods and styles. I hope to continue making a difference within swimming by training new swimmers and developing our workforce over the next 12 months.”

Mark Sesnan, Managing Director, GLL commented: “As the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise, our work is all about making more people more active more often. Harley has worked tirelessly to achieve this through swimming, from introducing those who have never considered swimming before, right through to helping to develop the next generation of elite talent. We are extremely proud of him and we are delighted to see his work being celebrated by his peers in the industry.”

UKActive CEO Steven Ward said: “The winners have demonstrated exceptional standards in the sector, proven over the course of months of comprehensive assessment.

“The quality of finalists was very high and the winners should be doubly proud to take home the awards in the face of such strong competition.

“Huge congratulations to all the winners, and to the rest of the finalists.”

For more information on Better’s swimming programme, www.better.org.uk/swim