As a swimming instructor, Alessandro De Angelis has been volunteering for the German Lifesaving Association, Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft, for years now. There and in his daily working life at ista, he knows that everything hinges on communication. 

The best bet for anybody trying to find Alessandro De Angelis is to look in the “Kinderhaus” swimming baths in the eponymous district of Münster. As part of a team of instructors, he is busy there in and around the pool every Wednesday, teaching swimming and lifesaving courses.  

The 54-year-old has been passing on his knowledge since 2022 – to swimmers young and old, beginners and experienced water babies alike. He teaches non-swimmers how to get their swimming badge and police recruits, for example, how to get their lifesaving certificate.

Trained as a rescue diver

In the 1990s, Stuttgart-born Alessandro trained to be scuba diver. After that, his focus switched to his studies, a job and a family. Until 2009: “Then I suddenly got the urge to start diving again. At the same time, I wanted to make myself useful; help others.”  

No sooner said than done: since then, he has been a member of the German Lifesaving Association (DLRG). First as a rescue diver, meanwhile as a swimming instructor: “I used to be called on when an accident had already happened. Now I prefer to train people so they don't get into difficulties in the first place.” 

Volunteering helps in the job

What is the most important thing? “Communication is what it’s all about. I have to give my learners clear instructions, encourage them and also get some of them over their fear of water,” Alessandro explains. That’s why didactics, voice, speech and presentation training are part of Alessandro’s regular refresher courses provided by DLRG. 

That doesn’t just help him in his work at the pool side but also in his profession as a Key Account Operations Manager (KOM) at ista. In this role, he has been looking after our largest customer, the housing company Vonovia, for many years together with other KOMs. “Good communication skills are equally vital in this job, as I am not only in constant touch with the customer, but also with many in-house departments across all hierarchical levels – whether it be Sales, Operations, Controlling, Legal or Finance. Nothing would work without good communication.” 

Totally focused at the pool side

His voluntary work is his balance to working life. “I can completely switch off from the events of the day, focus totally on my work as a swimming instructor.” He enjoys it so much that he intends to continue for many years to come. So anybody looking for Alessandro in future will, in all probability, still find him at the pool side.

Employer supports volunteering

Alessandro De Angelis currently dedicates about six hours every week to volunteering. During his time as a rescue diver, it was much more in some special cases. His employer ista also helped him to do this: “I was on the ground as a volunteer during the Elbe floods in 2013. ista gave me a week's leave of absence for this; there was never any question that it wouldn’t.” 

3 questions to swimming instructor Alessandro De Angelis

  1. What challenges do you face in your voluntary work?

    More and more children and adults can’t swim at all or can’t swim properly. There are various reasons for this. Immigration is one: many people come to us from countries that have little direct access to water. Swimming is not such an important issue there. But we are also definitely feeling the knock-on effects of the pandemic when courses were cancelled.
  2. How can you tell?

    Our swimming courses are almost always oversubscribed and we have long waiting lists. At the same time, there is a lack of swimming baths where people can learn since many public baths have been closed in recent decades.
  3. What do you particularly enjoy about volunteering?

    The nicest thing is to see people moving safely in the water after our swimming lessons and how they frequently surpass themselves and go on to develop skills they never dreamt they would have, especially during the lifesaving courses.

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