A DOCTOR has left her job in accident and emergency to retrain as a specialist baby swimming instructor in South Devon.
Kate Evans said: "'I know lots of people will have found my decision to change careers quite strange, but being a doctor is all about helping people.
"I feel I can do exactly the same for children and their parents in the pool. It almost means I can answer lots of medical questions along the way as well."
Water Babies offers a highly specialised, progressive programme and teaches thousands of babies across the UK every week. Kate teaches lessons in Torquay, Marldon, Halwell, Ivybridge and Plymouth.
She said: "The lessons give you such a feel good factor — and I'll never get over the thrill of seeing babies swimming underwater.
"Everyone is constantly smiling and happy and loving the special bonding time. They also create a huge sense of achievement, especially seeing what the babies can do from so young.
"I think we often underestimate just how much children are capable of, even when still babies. And they clearly love the sense of freedom that being in water provides."
Kate and all her instructors have completed their nationally accredited Water Babies training and are all fully qualified swimming instructors.
Despite the emphasis on parents and children having fun, the course does have a very serious safety point to it.
Kate added: "Tragically, drowning is still the third highest cause of accidental death among children in the UK. In most cases it's the shock of sudden submersion that causes them to panic. We believe that by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they'll be less likely to experience fear if they do fall in.
"With progressive training, babies and toddlers can be taught life saving skills very early on, such as turning onto their backs or swimming to the nearest solid object following a sudden submersion."
In addition to the more serious safety skills, another key focus of the half-hour sessions is enhancing parent/carer and child bonding and generally having great fun together.
Kate said: "We try hard to create a really sociable, energetic atmosphere and often classes turn into a full morning social, where the after-swim cake and conversation are as eagerly anticipated as the lessons themselves."
Despite their gentle nature, the sessions also provide a complete physical workout. Studies have shown that participating babies have improved sleeping and eating patterns and flourish with the extra attention they receive — a definite bonus!