Objectives of the Charity
The provision, promotion and teaching of swimming using the Halliwick method, the Watsu method or other effective methods and by raising self-esteem, confidence and promoting more active citizenship for people with disabilities by involving them in social and community events.

Aims of the Charity 
Hull Optimists teaches swimming to anyone who has failed to learn to swim by traditional methods. They may have a physical, sensory, or learning disability, suffer from back pain or have a fear of water.

Initially we use the Halliwick Concept, which concentrates on teaching 'water happiness' before actual swimming strokes.

Halliwick was developed by engineer James MacMillan and teaches people to understand how their body will behave in water, a very different medium to the air we usually move in. As you begin to understand what the water is doing to you it becomes easier to predict what is going to happen. This knowledge brings confidence and understanding of how to move in water, reducing fear until eventually total enjoyment of the water can be achieved and moving and playing in the water becomes the pleasure that Halliwick Instructors call 'Water Happiness'.

Through a series of exercises, often incorporated into games, the learner develops breath control, balance control and to release any unwanted tension. We progress slowly so the learner is never asked to do anything they are not ready to try. Teaching is done in groups, but each person has an individual instructor to give support whenever it is needed.

After the initial programme has been completed, there is an opportunity to learn swimming strokes with the Shaw Method, using principles of the Alexander Technique.  This follows on naturally from the Halliwick Concept as they are both based on the same philosophy of creating movement with minimum effort.


Alexander Technique is a gentle re-education of the body to improve co-ordination, which in turn improves performance. It can be performing as a singer, musician or athelete or it can be of simple everyday tasks such as sitting, standing or lifting.

The teacher guides the pupil through co-ordinating movements using gentle touch to make the pupil aware of tension in their body, the pupil can then release this tension allowing the body to function more easily. This may reduce pain and improve conditions such as RSI, neck and shoulder ache. low back problems, migraine and stress. Often the pupil is unaware of the tension until the teacher shows them where it is through using their hands.

Because Alexander Technique is a physical therapy it is easier to experience within your body, than to read or hear about it.

The Shaw Swimming Method was developed by Alexander Technique Teacher Steven Shaw, who applied the principals of Alexander Technique to swimming. More than in conventional swimming teaching, the Shaw Method pays attention to the quality of each movement, rather than the quantity. Swimmers undertake a series of progressive exercises to build up an understanding of each stroke and the most efficient way to swim it.

The Shaw Method also emphasises the need to pay attention to the alignment of the head, neck, and back to encourage easy breathing, and teaches the swimmer to recognise and eliminate unnecessary tension throughout the body, whilst performing each stroke.

The Shaw Method is suitable for beginner swimmers who are apprehensive about the water but want to conquer their fear, for improvers who want to learn the rudiments of technique and for competent swimmers who want to improve their feel for the water and increase their efficiency. Unlike many swim classes, Alexander Swimming keeps group numbers small and teachers teach from in the water to give support and hands-on guidance where necessary.