Swimming Buddies


Swimming Buddies is an accredited Autism Swim centre the first of its kind in Europe. We also work in partnership with Belfast’s GLL Brook Activity centre to bring this essential life skill to more families.


At Swimming Buddies we aim to help all our buddies reach their full potential in swimming and stay safe in the water while making some new friends along the way. 

For children with autism swimming can be a very therapeutic activity, calming the sensory overloads of our world. As autistic children view, feel and understand the world in a unique way it means that the teaching process for learning to swim must be unique also.


Our coaches have experience with children with autism and understand the best teaching techniques to use while helping children to stay safe in the water. Coaches have wide and varied experience and focus on child centered learning with adaptable teaching methods, using visual aids and supports to help with processing key points of swimming and water safety.



“Autism Swim are an international wandering and drowning prevention specialists for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children with ASD, and Autism Swim is on a mission to change these statistics. Through wider community education and partnering with amazing services such as Swimming Buddies in certifying their staff, more families can receive the support that they need to keep their little one’s safe and happy”

– Erika Gleeson – Founder Autism Swim


We match each buddIe with an appropriate coach who tailors their session to their individual needs.


Numbers at our pool are kept to a minimum and each session lasts 30 mins.


We feel children work best alongside their peers and it gives everyone a chance to make some new buddies, our sessions have a ratio of 3:1 and last 30 minutes. Coaches remain in the water at all times and we offer a quieter pool space with dimmed lights to allow the best sensory experience.


Swimming Buddies was founded by Sarah Jane Woods, with over 10 years experience in Swim School management Sarah Jane chose to specialise in offering sessions for children with autism 3 years ago. 


Joel Laswon is a team leader at Swimming Buddies and has been teaching children for over 16 years. Both Joel and Sarah Jane are supported by a fully qualified team of 13 instructors. 

At Swimming Buddies our purpose is to save lives. We have an unwavering commitment to education, empowering changes and fostering inclusive practices.


We are delighted to work alongside our partners at Brook Leisure Centre to bring this essential life skill to more families.

We also run a sister program 'FitBuddies' at CrossFit Berserk providing bespoke inclusive fitness classes to encourage co-ordination, strength, endurance, fun and a sense of belonging. 


Fleming Fulton School, Malone Road, Belfast 

Sessions currently run on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.

Brook Activity Centre, Summerhill Road, Dunmurry

Sessions run on Tuesday evenings on a one to one basis only.

Claire and Carole Johnston-Thompson

What Our Buddies Say >

Linda Thompson

What Our Buddies Say >

Claire Ratican

Why We're Great >

What Our Buddies Say >

Leach McElveen

What Our Buddies Say >

Debbie Smith

Why We're Great >

What Our Buddies Say >

Mairie Devlin

Why We're Great >

What Our Buddies Say >

Swimming Buddies Social Story

Meet Swimming Buddies Sammy the Seahorse!

Sammy will guide you through your Swimming Buddies journey from when you arrive to when you get in the pool.

You will also see the new faces of all our friendly coaches.

Sammy is an expert guide as well as a brilliant buddie. Don't forget to ask if you have any questions!

Welcome to Swimming Buddies.


Welcome to Swimming Buddies at the Brook Leisure Centre!

Our simple, fun guide is available for you to download or view to help our buddies settle into their new pool adventure.

It covers the journey to the pool and some of the new faces you will meet along the way.


Refund Policy

We will not be liable to you for failure to perform any of our obligations if the venue is required to close by a force majeure event (meaning any cause beyond our reasonable control including without limitation, acts of God, war, insurrection, riot, civil disturbances, acts of terrorism, fire, explosion, flood, theft of essential equipment, malicious damage, strike, lock out, weather, third party injunction, national defence requirements, acts or regulations of national or local governments.) 

Please note if we are unable to run sessions due to any of the above we will endeavour to offer a replacement class but refunds will not be possible.

Session fees must be paid in full at the beginning of term, fees will not be deducted for missed classes.

If you would like any clarification please email us info@swimmingbuddies.co.uk

Many Thanks

The Team @ Swimming Buddies

Child Protection Policy

If you would like a copy of our Child Protection Policy please click on the link below and we will email it to you.


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