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Bangkok Faces: Gordon Ellard, Proprietor, Bangkok Dolphins

Man in swimming pool carrying swim equipment

Kids love to swim and any good parent knows that swimmingis a skill that can literally, save your child’s life. Bangkok Dolphins has been teaching children to swim in Bangkok since 1997 and is the only swim school in Thailand that is accredited by the Thai Ministry of Education. They are a family run business and let’s find out a little more about their founder Gordon Ellard.

Name: Gordon Ellard
Job Title: Proprietor and Programme Developer, Bangkok Dolphins 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

My name is Gordon Ellard, and I am the Proprietor and Programme Developer at Bangkok Dolphins. I was born in Thailand to Scottish and English parents, raised in Thailand, and schooled in the UK, giving me a unique perspective and background. 

What is your profession, and what are the key skills and responsibilities of this role? 

Day to day I am responsible for teaching swimming, business development, staffing, and government work. Key skills required for this role include a genuine love for teaching children, patience, a sense of humour, and diplomacy. I am also responsible for ensuring that our clients receive the best swimming lessons possible. 

How did you get involved in your profession, and how does your role enhance the well-being or experience of children? 

My involvement in swimming began when my brother-in-law was coaching the British Olympic Triathlon team. We recognized a real need for high-quality swimming lessons offered from an early age for both Thai and expat children. Since then, our program has grown tremendously, and we have helped many children become strong swimmers.  The world is 75% water so a child who is a strong swimmer is opened up to many other sports including water skiing, boating, water polo, surfing and the list goes on. 

What challenges do you face in this role, and what do you hope to achieve within your industry? 

In Thailand, we are blessed with year-round great weather, allowing children to swim more frequently and develop their skills rapidly. One of the main challenges I encounter is ensuring our program evolves in tandem with our students’ ages and abilities. For instance, we have 3-year-olds swimming independently, yet their maturity level remains that of a 3-year-old. It’s crucial to consider this aspect while nurturing and advancing their swimming skills.

Accessibility, within the industry, for children of all abilities, is what I am interested in and striving for.

I Co-authored the Puggles Swim Programin 2022, a program to include the deaf and hard of hearing in mainstream swim lessons in Australia. Following on from that I am tutoring swim teachers under Swim Australia™ Teacher of Learners with Disability hoping to bring inclusion in all swim lessons in Thailand. 

Who or what inspires you, and what are some unique insights you have about Bangkok? 

I am inspired every day by the dedication of parents who make it a priority to bring their children to swim lessons  Their commitment to their children’s well-being is motivating. As for unique insights about Bangkok, the Klongs in Bangkok are not just used for transport, fishing, and markets, but also serve as an urban playground where local children can show off their diving skills and enjoy the water.

For more information on Bangkok Dolphins please click here

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