Fast forward 30 years, and after learning to swim herself, Mrs Nicolle went on to teach thousands of islanders.
The story might have been very different, however, as when working as a nurse in London she had planned to go to a swimming lesson with friends. ‘Then the Tube broke down so I never got there,’ she said.
On moving to Guernsey with her family, her son started taking lessons with Beau Sejour Swim School and she decided to learn too.
That led to her deciding to pass on what she had learned to others and so she started a part-time job that saw her spending three decades tutoring islanders, aged from about five months to more than 80.
Her role has always been a practical one and she did not look to take up a more managerial position during her time. ‘I didn’t want to get into management because I don’t like computers,’ she said.
As well as teaching at the Beau Sejour pool, she also gave lessons at schools all over the island.
‘I’ll always remember [former Amherst head teacher] Paul Steer saying that every child should learn to swim,’ she said. ‘He said that you can teach them to read and write but that won’t save their life.’
Mrs Nicolle was due to retire in March but her last lesson took place in January. However, she had no idea it was her last until the day after, though, when lockdown was announced.
She said she would miss all the babies and children, as well as the staff of the school.
School manager Debbie Le Noury said Mrs Nicolle would be missed.
‘It’s a really sad day. It’s like a family here. It’s been sad with Covid since not everyone has been able to say goodbye to Jackie properly.’
While hoping to spend more time swimming herself, Mrs Nicolle will be spending some of her retirement on her other passion, bowls, a sport which has seen her represent the island in competitions and manage the Commonwealth Games team in India.
She said she planned to help teach youngsters to play and hoped that she would also get the chance to play competitively outside the island once the pandemic restrictions ease.