It is one thing to leave your home country for work abroad, but it is another thing when you turn what you do into a professional career. That is exactly what Tusiime Richard, a Ugandan swimming coach is living out in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Richard, 29, born and raised in Fort Portal in Western Uganda, attained high school education in Kampala and later attained technical education in computing which kickstarted his career as a System Administrator at one of the institutions he worked for four years before he called it quits to leave for Dubai in 2019.
Switching Careers and Flying to Dubai
Surprisingly, Richard says he had never thought of switching careers from being tech-savvy to a swimming coach, provided he is a gadget guy who if he is not swimming or attending to swimmers, is onto video games all throughout.
However, he got inspired by one of his friends (whom he likes to call a mentor) who expressed to him the opportunity of not only enjoying swimming as a hobby but turning it into a high-profile life career, an opportunity he took up instantly.
He started receiving personal coaching from the mentor and after gaining expertise, left Uganda for Dubai in 2019 to work as a lifeguard at one of the largest beaches in the Middle East country.
Life in Dubai as a Swimming Coach
On arrival in Dubai, Richard recounts how tough the first three to four months were due to the change in weather and climate status in the Middle East country.
The temperature in Dubai is hotter than it is back here in Uganda, and this, according to him took about 100 days or more to adjust to their lifestyle, but that didn’t stop him from targeting his dream of becoming a professional and licensed swim coach.
Although swimming is very much a sport of observation in the perspective of a swim coach, he says the role requires expertise in guiding swimmers on how to take correct strokes and endurance while in water.
In 2019, Richard obtained a certificate as Beach Lifeguard from Safety Skills Training in Dubai after passing the Lifeguard Assessment in accordance with the Dubai Lifeguard scheme and ISO 17024.
And now two years later, the 29-year-old pro-swimmer completed Level 2 of the Professional Swim Coach Training at the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) and was certified as a pro swim coach in February this year (see certificate below).
The training attained is fully certified by the UAE Swimming Federation further cementing his position and role as a swim coach who can be hired by wealthy families to manage their indoor swimming pools and train their kids in the swimming sport.
Although many Ugandans who go abroad have one major goal in mind (to make money), Richard says to him, it is much more than that as he is targeting achieving a journey of his career as a professional swim coach whilst his stay in the Gulf.
For the time he has been in Dubai (now four years at the time of writing), he says he has fallen in love with the task of guarding and training several people on how to swim, an activity which turns out to be his hobby and a thing he does wholeheartedly.
As much as he is focused on building his career as a private swimming coach in Dubai, Richard intends to start a swim school/academy back in Uganda that will help those interested in learning the basic skills of swimming and safety to both individuals and schools.
On what advice he would give to aspiring new swim coaches; Richard says “It takes some time to figure out how you want to develop your coaching business and style, and you’ll have moments of doubt along the way. I want you to know that we’ve all felt the same at some point or another – you’re not alone.”
To this, he says one can reach out to swimming associations to get professional skills which you may not learn from the onset at the beach or swimming pool.
Not basing entirely on his swimming coach career, Richard urges youths to always explore different ways on how they can turn things they do for leisure into a lifetime paying career, as opportunities are hugely available in developed countries such as UAE.
He says friends can be best source of inspiration in one’s journey to a thriving career, and to those interested in taking in the path like his (swimming), should consider investing in heavily in both time and money to sharpen their skills by enrolling for safety training courses so as they get formalized in the field.
To those who wish to learn by themselves, he urges you to make use of YouTube tutorials and practice slowly, but can also be contacted on a private basis through his social media channels (@swimpro9 and @richie_swimcoach on Instagram).
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