Swim Hackney

SwimLondon2016 swimming lessons kicked off to enable 225 new swimmers. Pic: Bernadette Borja.

SwimLondon2016 swimming lessons kicked off to enable 225 new swimmers. Pic: Bernadette Borja.

Swimming is the most popular participation sport in the UK, with over 2.5 million adults going swimming every week, according to Swim London 2016. Yet 21 per cent of adults across England or 1 in 5 can’t swim.

As a part of a legacy project for the upcoming European Aquatics Championships, residents in five boroughs, including Hackney and Tower Hamlets, are being encouraged to learn to swim.

Swim London 2016 is hoping to teach 225 adults to swim this year.

Three 12-week swimming courses will be held in each of the boroughs, targeting anyone aged over 18 who can’t swim or isn’t confident in the water.

ELL spoke with Swim London 2016 Head Coach Harley Hicks and LadyXsize, a fitness coach who is learning to swim properly:

Fitness expert LadyXsize starts swimming lessons with SwimLondon2016.

Fitness expert LadyXsize starts swimming lessons with SwimLondon2016.

ELL: What is your role in this initiative?

HH: I have created a social model of teaching swimming and my role, as well as teaching, has been to train other teachers to deliver lessons through the model, which has engaged so many adult non-swimmers over the last 12 months. I really enjoy and have a passion for getting adults enjoying water rather than fearing it.

ELL: What are some of the techniques and basic skills covered in the lessons?

HH: Ironically, Swim Hackney’s first session on Saturday began in Baxters Court pub on Mare Street. We use the first hour of the first session to socialise and get to know each other before entering the water, which is unheard of in swimming. This sets the tone of the following 12 weeks and encourages a community feel to the lessons, which helps to keep the swimmers on board.  We really start with the basics with regards to technique. Every week is a challenge for the swimmers but we aim to keep the sessions as fun and informal as possible.

ELL: How important is it for people to learn to swim?

HH: Swimming is a fun and inclusive activity that can be enjoyed by all regardless of age, background, ability or impairment.

Learning to swim is a key life skill that can help to prevent drowning. It also means that you can take part in numerous water-based activities.

Swimming is one of the most effective ways to burn calories, and as well as helping to maintain an active lifestyle and tackle obesity levels.

ELL: Why are you just learning to swim?

LXS: I have never learnt to swim properly.   One of the issues I believe is that my parents were  scared of water following an incident on holiday with my sister.  That fear was passed onto us.

ELL: What was your first lesson like?

LXS: [I] enjoyed my first lesson on Sunday and was able to put my face in the water.

ELL: What do you know so far or what have you learnt?

LXS: Currently, I can do four strokes of crawl and float on my back, but then everything goes wrong.

ELL: As a fitness coach, do you see yourself ever teaching swimming?

LXS: [I] don’t see myself as a swimming instructor, but possibly aqua aerobics.

If you want to know more about Swim London 2016, visit http://bit.ly/1KFVYqS .

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