25 years of nurturing thousands of swimmers

Penguins is a friendly, family-run swim school, based at Lancing College in West Sussex. We have spent 25 years nurturing swimmers of all ages and stages to gain a valuable skill for life. We are proud to have been named ASA UK Swim School of the Year in 2016 and Southern Water Swim School of the Year in 2018.

We work with each swimmer as an individual, supporting them to achieve their potential – whether that’s competing for county, training to be a coach, or simply learning a skill they’ll always enjoy. Enjoyment of the water is our number one aim for every swimmer, from babies to masters. Our fully ASA-qualified team has over a century of combined experience, with some teachers in the role for over 30 years.

You can read more about our ethos, activities and stories on our Blog page and in our quarterly swimming newsletter. You may also be interested to read this lovely profile of us in The Swimming Times.

Every Individual Counts

We keep classes small and build relationships that last for life. Some Penguins who started with us as toddlers have worked their way up to become Penguins teachers themselves. We can spot vocation in our swimmers, too, and are proud to have kickstarted the careers of high calibre swimmers, including members of the Great British Deaf Team and the county swimming and water polo teams. With specialist SEND skills, we enjoy supporting swimmers with additional physical, emotional or learning needs to gain confidence in the pool.

A Focus on Water Safety

Water safety, particularly in open water, is something we are all passionate about at Penguins. We work closely with the RNLI and partner the local RNLI station in Shoreham to deliver water safety awareness events and training. Many swimmers go on to take their national lifesaving qualifications with us. Our annual free SwimSafe day, held on Lancing Beach, gives hundreds of swimmers the skills needed to enjoy the sea responsibly. One young swimmer even managed to rescue his dad, thanks to the skills he learnt at Penguins.

Enrichment Opportunities

We offer an exciting programme of events and classes alongside our usual lessons to give swimmers even more opportunities to gain water confidence, skills and interests. We partner with Drenched and Worthing Water Polo Club to offer water polo sessions, use the ‘endless pool technology’ at Brighton SeaLanes to assess stroke technique, and take part in local events such as the Pier to Pier sea swim. We have also run scuba diving and synchro sessions, and offer specialist swimming course for schools.

Meet the Team

Linette Wheeler, Founder

Linette set up Penguins in 1994 to share with others her lifelong passion for swimming, which began as a toddler learning to swim in the sea. She went on to become a successful Club, County and National swimmer, holding the Sussex Masters backstroke record for several years. The Penguins ethos of nurturing every individual is rooted in Linette’s interest in child development, inclusive approaches and emotional empowerment.

Gillian Button

Gill has been teaching swimming for over 30 years and specialises in beginner (NPTS 1-2) swimmers. She is an imaginative, fun teacher, who ensures early swimmers not only develop a thorough skillbase, but gain a love of swimming that will stay with them for life. As a specialist SEND classroom assistant, Gill incorporates sign language and sensory learning techniques into her swimming classes.

Nicholas Piper

Nic teaches our advanced (NPTS 6-10 competitive) and master swimmers, and also works with individuals (mostly competitive swimmers). As a highly respected instructor with an in-depth knowledge of stroke mechanics, he knows how to get the best out of swimmers at this level. Nic is Head of Age Groups coach at Marlins Swimming Club (Mid Sussex), and trains the Sussex County Squad.

Hannah Beadle

Hannah has been with Penguins for eight years, getting our intermediate level swimmers off to a confident start. She is known for her fun and friendly approach, and her helpful doll who joins her to teach the children in the pool. Hannah is training to be a Primary School Teacher and also has experience of providing one to one support for children with autism, ADHD, speech and language needs and developmental delay.

Clare Holland

After competing to national level in her youth, Claire started teaching swimming at 16, keen to continue her passion on a different level. She teaches all levels, from parent and baby classes through to adult lessons. When Clare travelled in Australia, she qualified as an Australian swim instructor so she could even teach there! Outside of the pool, Clare has been a secondary school teacher for 17 years and is mum to two Little Penguins.

Kath Lambert

Kath is our Office Manager. Prior to qualifying as an ASA teacher herself twelve years ago she worked in the media. Kath was a competitive pool swimmer and now swims in open water. She is often to be found on the beach (or in the sea) watching the sunrise.​

Lee Hammond

Vanessa Lavender

Vanessa has swam since she was 3 when she jumped into the pool after her older brother! She has also competed at County level. Her first taste of teaching was when she was 17 and she then achieved her level 1 teaching qualification. Vanessa started at Penguins in 2014 when her own children were little and became a Level 2 teacher in February 2018. Vanessa feels proud of the young children she has helped to learn to swim in this time and loves seeing how they progress.

Jo Jex

Jo learned to swim as a teenager in the Lido at Arundel, and then swam for Arundel, Worthing and Shiverers clubs. A large part of Jo’s swim teaching has included making water play fun for children who find movement difficult. Jo is committed to helping youngsters understand water safety so they can also try any water-based activities around our coastline.

Euan Brooks

Euan started with us as a little Penguin! He progressed through our classes to become an integral member of our squads. He swam competitively and gained his national pool lifeguard qualification. We are very proud that he has stayed with us to complete his Swim England Helper training.