For over 70 years, disabled people have been experiencing freedom in water, learning through the Halliwick Concept …

The development of this Concept led to the formation of the Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy.

The Association

The Halliwick Association of Swimming Therapy (Halliwick AST) is a registered charity with the Charity Commission for England & Wales (number 250008). It is a voluntary association and, (other than Halliwick lecturers being paid a small fee for running Halliwick courses), is run entirely by volunteers, giving up their time and skills for free so that the association’s work might continue for the benefit of its members.

The association was set up in 1952 by James (‘Mac’) and Phyl McMillan to develop the teaching of water safety and swimming for disabled people using the Halliwick Concept. To learn more about our history, take a look at our ‘Story of Halliwick’ page.

You can also download a general information sheet about us here.

The main aspects of the Association’s work are:

The development of the Halliwick Concept in teaching disabled people with any disability, swimming and safety in the water, throughout the UK and abroad.

Those affiliated to Halliwick AST include swimming clubs, special schools, hospitals or training centres and the like, and there are currently over 80 affiliated clubs or groups in the UK, as well as several personal and overseas affiliates.  Clubs and groups affiliated to Halliwick in the UK are grouped into Regional Associations called Halliwick ASTRAs, based on county boundaries.

The development and running of courses in the theory and practice of the Halliwick Concept.

The Halliwick AST Foundation Course prepares the Instructor to work with an individual swimmer under the guidance of a Group Leader. There are 2 Advanced Courses: The first is designed for instructors who lead groups and train new instructors.  The second is designed for therapists in paediatric neurological rehabilitation.

Supplementary courses in the context of Halliwick in the water may also be organised, for example, on:

  • assessing;
  • lecturing;
  • disability awareness;
  • moving and assisting;
  • Halliwick and competitions.

Affiliated clubs and groups do not generally organise “swimming lessons” in the accepted sense.  An instructor works in the water, on a one-to-one basis, although often in a group situation.

Teaching follows the Ten-Point Programme of the Halliwick Concept.

Water confidence and control of one’s body in the water is taught, leading towards swimming movements.

The Halliwick Concept focusses on teaching a swimmer confidence in their own abilities in water. For that reason, Halliwick teaches without any flotation aids and does not encourage the use of goggles.  For more information, see Why no Flotation Aids and Why no Goggles.

When the 10 Points have been mastered, more traditional swimming/stroke technique may follow.

Depending on the club/group, there is usually a membership fee.  Halliwick AST recommends that clubs ask any person joining to complete a form of self-certification, simply as a precaution, to say that the person can take part in water activities (with medical advice where necessary).

Affiliated clubs and Halliwick ASTRAs (regions) organise swimming competitions at local, regional, national and even international level.

The galas are run on a timed-handicapping basis, first adopted by Halliwick AST in 1952, where swimmers compete on the basis of their ability in the water, irrespective of their disability on land. We now use a ‘Zero Tolerance’ time banding.

Halliwick AST produces a range of quality publications, DVDs and teaching resources, which are regularly updated.

These include a highly recommended text book, first published in 1981 under the title of ‘Swimming for the Disabled’ which was reprinted in 1984 and revised in 1992 as the 2nd edition.  The 3rd edition (2010) is now available under the title of ‘Halliwick Swimming For Disabled People‘.

There are also numerous booklets and leaflets available, giving information on various aspects of teaching water safety and swimming for disabled people.

These are detailed on the publications order form.

Halliwick AST also produces a regular newsletter.

We have a number of policies and procedures which can be downloaded from the policies and procedures page of our website.