A local sports and leisure provider has helped a man progress from a non-swimmer to becoming a life guard and helping others stay safe in water.
Everyone Active, which runs eight leisure facilities in partnership with Sunderland City Council, has supported 27-year-old Martin Gallagher through his National Pool Lifeguarding qualification after he began adult swimming lessons at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.
Martin previously worked as a data analyst in the city, and two years ago began hiking as a way to keep active. After finding himself following paths that took him close to rivers and lakes, Martin quickly recognised that he needed to learn how to swim in case he ever ended up in the water.
“I never learnt how to swim when I was younger and it had never been something I thought about doing”, Martin explains. “It wasn’t until I began to take hiking more seriously and started venturing close to open water that I realised how important it was for my safety.”
One in five adults in the UK cannot swim. One person drowns every 20 hours and hundreds more suffer life changing injuries as a result of near drowning. Everyone Active offers a number of swimming courses for adults across all of its leisure centres in Sunderland to try and improve these statistics and keep people safe in and around water. .
“I began swimming lessons at Sunderland Aquatic Centre in June last year”, Martin said. “I found I really enjoyed the sessions and accelerated through my classes, becoming one of the fastest. It was then that I decided to take on a new challenge and become a lifeguard.”
Everyone Active part-funded Martin’s lifeguard qualification and offered advice and support throughout his training. Exactly one year after he started his swimming lessons, Martin qualified and started working at Sunderland Aquatic Centre. He now has his sights set on a new challenge.
Martin continued: “Everyone Active were fantastic at supporting me through my lifeguard training and I am really enjoying working at Sunderland Aquatic Centre I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of learning this life-saving skill, and I’m hoping to start training to become a swim teacher later on this year with the aim of helping others stay safe in water.”
Steve Dougal, Everyone Active’s general manager said: “As the UK’s longest established leisure operator, we are committed to providing excellent training opportunities for the local community. Martin has shown that it is never too late to learn how to swim and I would encourage anyone who is looking to learn this life-saving skill to find out more about our fantastic adult swim lessons.”