For many (myself included), there are barriers that exist that make swimming the activity that we never fully embrace; that make swimming an activity that we fear.
My first swimming “lesson” involved my dad throwing me into the pool. Despite his “push me on a bike without stabilisers” approach to cycling tuition resulting in the loss of a tooth, he believed that I would swim rather than sink. Given that he couldn’t swim himself, I was never quite sure what he would have done if I had experienced difficulty. Or more difficulty than the scrambling to the edge and hanging on as if my life depended on it.
After that, I spent my time in the pool playing. I had lots of fun, but I never really swam and it’s only since signing up to Swimathon that I have faced my fears, developed confidence in the water and the ability to swim length after length. Taking lessons; remembering that lifeguards are on duty and swimming with friends have made such a difference and my fear has diminished.
At least when I am in the water.
For, as I strip down to my shorts and make the walk from the changing area to the pool, I do worry about how I look and about who is looking at me. But the truth is that nobody is looking at me. Nobody is judging me. You might worry about your appearance and as I sport a very hipster beard (I know that it causes drag, Duncan), I appreciate what the pool water can do to our hair and I am very conscious of my wobbly bits as I waddle towards the pool, but it no longer stops me, as when I wade into the water, I feel alive. The weight of the world is lifted from my shoulders and the weight of my body is buoyed by the water. As someone who is overweight, swimming is the perfect sport. It places less load on my joints and if a whale can swim, so can I.
As I have began to swim more and share my love of swimming more, I have noticed that my boys want to swim more. As a parent (well, step-father) my actions directly affect theirs; my fears fuel theirs and my previous reluctance to swim dictated what we did at weekends. And it wasn’t swimming.
The biggest barrier to them swimming was me!
However, since signing up to Swimathon, I have been delighted (and a little ashamed) to see that they want to swim more and to spend more time with me. I provide them with the encouragement and opportunity to swim and with safety and security in the pool and in return, their smiles warm my heart and fill me with pride.
Signing up to Swimathon hasn’t just been the best thing that I have done for my wellbeing, it has been the best thing that I have done for my family
By Stephen Morrison