As an adult it is easy to assume that everyone knows how to swim, but research conducted in 2015 by the Amateur Swimming Association found that one in every five adults in England were unable to.
Those figures have improved over the last three years and Everyone Active, who were recently named Facility Operator of the Year by Swim England for an eighth time, are bucking the trend when it comes to swimming provision for the nation’s adults.
Participants in our adult swimming lessons have spoken about how Lammas Leisure Centre, and specifically their swim teacher Angie Hudd, have helped them overcome their childhood ‘phobia’ of the water. Thanks to their lessons they now love meeting up every week to swim, dive and socialise in the pool located in Sutton-in-Ashfield.
One member, who has changed a ‘phobia’ into a pleasure, is Simon Harvey. He is a PhD student in history at the University of Derby who previously worked as a deck officer in the Merchant Navy for six years. It is ironic, perhaps, that he had worked at sea for so long but had never learned to swim! For the 32-year-old, though, not being able to swim had been a source of regret.
“When I got asked about it,” he said, “I bordered on feeling ashamed. The water terrified me and there is a real stigma attached to it, particularly up at the ‘deep end’. I became determined to outgrow the fear and pledged to sign up two years ago for the adult swim class.”
“No matter how old you are. I would recommend it to anyone. Kids shouldn’t have all the fun! I’m now proficient in breast stroke, back stroke, front crawl, and butterfly and am working toward my ‘honours’, the final Swim England badge. I’m now swimming up to four times a week and I love it.
“We’re a small group of no more than 10 at a time, so that lets us take great amounts of pride in each other’s achievement. We have become quite close friends off the back of this experience at Lammas. We all get on so well, and all can relate to new members.”
Simon is the youngest in his adult swim group, but the age range varies right up to Lynn Hardy, 69, and Margaret Bucklow, 74.
Margaret Meijer, who is 70, was recommended to take up swimming at Lammas by the GP Referral Scheme after having two knee replacements. Like Simon, she had been terrified of the water since she was a child.
Through Angie and the centre’s help, though, she is now a self-proclaimed fish, who says swimming has taken over her life.
Margaret said: “I had no confidence in the water and would never go near the deep end. I could splash about at best and it had been on my bucket list for a long time to take up lessons.
“When I first went I felt silly, but over time, Angie and the other swimmers, gave me the confidence to go in the deep end and now I love it! I’m working towards my silver Swim England certificate and I get such a sense of achievement from the lessons. I have made a great friend in Mo Ryan who is 65 herself, and we really play off each other’s enthusiasm and encouragement.
“At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat and have been through the same thing. We have our lesson once a week, but we all try and go as much as we can individually and together. The confidence I have gained from this has changed my life.”
Whether you are a Simon or a Margaret, it is never too late to learn an important life skill like swimming.
Currently, 46 adults are signed up on Lammas Leisure Centre’s adult swimming lessons, with four hours of lessons being held each week.
Paul Blakemore, general manager at Lammas Leisure Centre, said: “Our swimming lessons cater for all ages and abilities and we take pride in the way we deliver this vital life skill. Everyone can benefit from our swimming scheme and Simon and Margaret are testament to that and everyone at the centre is proud of the way we have helped them overcome their fears and seen them develop into proficient and confident swimmers.”