STRATFORD SWIMMER URGES MORE TO PRIORITISE LESSONS AS HIS MENTAL HEAL TH SOARS
Following new research from Swim England that as many as half of people believe swimming lessons to be intimidating, prohibiting many across the nation to take the plunge to learn a vital life skill, Stratford swimmer Alfredo Aguirre is supporting a campaign to bust the myths.
Previously unable to swim even a few strokes, Alfredo has progressed to a strong swimming level and given himself the opportunity to enjoy the water wherever possible. Most importantly, his regular lessons at London Aquatics Centre have transformed his mental health, adding to his social life as the water gives him "a much needed therapy".
New research indicates there remains a number of inaccurate and damaging misconceptions about adult swimming lessons, resulting in many just like Alfredo across the nation missing out on learning an invaluable life skill or rediscovering their love for the water.
Reflecting on why swimming lessons have made such a difference to both his physical and mental health, Alfredo said:
"There are definitely stereotypes that some people might have - they might think if they have been swimming before they will never need another lesson. Without swimming lessons, I would have missed out on so much. Since starting lessons, I've noticed quite a few changes. My mental health has improved so much, it's almost therapeutic for me to come and swim, not focusing on anything else other than enjoying the water.
"It's introduced me to amazing new people, and even new hobbies - at the London Aquatics Centre I've been able to try diving, which is an experience I just wouldn't get otherwise. The group that you create in lessons is special because you're all working towards the same thing, and you can connect in that way.
"I think swimming pools like mine, and opportunities for people of all ages are vital to the community. Without these, I would have missed out on so much and not only am I grateful to enjoy this experience and my lessons, but I would urge anyone to get involved because it makes such a positive difference to your life."
The sector is looking to inspire more people into the water at any stage of their life - with data currently suggesting as many as half of adults feel it's intimidating to learn to swim as an adult, and more than two in five feeling swimming lessons aren't for 'people like me'.
Concerningly, minority groups appear to be more adversely affected by these misconceptions, with those from ethnically diverse communities even more likely to report that lessons would be intimidating.
Despite this, there is a clear latent demand of non-swimmers ready to take the plunge and start their swimming journey. 1.7 million from ethnically diverse communities have not been swimming in the last 12 months, but want to swim in next 12 months.
As part of the latest #LoveSwimming campaign, more adults are being urged to get back into swimming, whether they be a complete beginner or rediscovering their love for the water.
Katie Towner, Swim England's Head of Learn to Swim, said: "Alfredo's story is extremely inspiring and we believe no one should feel as though it's too late for them to learn to swim, or that there are any barriers to them having their first lesson at any age or ability level.
"Our new research reveals a number of misconceptions about swimming lessons that we are want to dispel once and for all - whether it concerns what you should wear in the water, lesson privacy, or who swimming is for.
"We all know that swimming is an essential life skill - but for so many across the nation it is the gateway to creating amazing memories with your family, becoming healthier and happier, and achieving full confidence in the water.
"Knowing that so many want to swim but lack the confidence or knowledge to get started, we are delighted to be launching our latest wave of Love Swimming to break down barriers and inspire more adults into the water."
To sign up to lessons at your local One Leisure pool, please contact your local leisure centre.