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Last year one of my friends (@theblackvoyager) posted a caption about successfully diving
underwater, despite the fact that she had not yet learnt how to swim. The post garnered hundreds of comments from other travellers, mostly about some of the restrictions and limitations they had come across abroad simply because they did not know how to swim and it made me realise that outside of my bubble, this was a fairly common thing, especially in the black and brown community.
A Lawyer in her previous life, the copious hours of scrutinising law text books, case law and wikipedia have resulted in the birth of a creature, whose capability to research into the paths less trodden, surpasses most seasoned travellers.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough that when growing up, in addition to the mandatory swimming classes which we had to take on at school, my mother was extremely keen (powered by a less than ideal childhood upbringing herself) to get us to experience everything that she hadn't when she was a child and that included competitive swimming classes. I got certificates and medals up to 800m but shortly after this point (by which time I was reaching the end of my tenure in middle school) I became disinterested. However, I have never forgotten how to swim and I am forever grateful for how this skill has enabled me do the wildest things from swimming in the open waters with dolphins and whale sharks in the Philippines to jumping off of a extremely high cliff in Malta at the blue lagoon.
With a new year, I'm sure that we're all gearing up with our New Year's resolutions and in an effort to offer up some encouragement and hopefully useful content to those who have promised themselves that this year they're going to learn how to swim, I have set out a list of safe and non-judgemental spaces where you can learn how to swim as an adult:
1. YMCA Club
Geared towards absolute beginners and people who want to improve their technique, YMCA Club hosts four different groups throughout the week over an 8 week long course. Prices for members to join the course which takes place at 112 Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3NQ is £68 for the full course, for non-members its £94.
FIND OUT MORE: https://www.ymcaclub.co.uk/what-we-offer/courses/sports
2. Turner Swim
This is a popular result which comes up when searching for adult swimming classes, with plenty of locations across central London and specialising in one-on-one lessons, this is a great choice for those looking for a more private and tailored session. Prices for lessons start at £61 for London locations and are marginally cheaper if bought in blocks of 5. The price may sound steep, but bearing in mind you're getting one-to-one session in the centre of London it's understandable.
3. DIY or Online Courses
If you're looking to save your money and are confident about getting in the water and learning how to swim, you can learn simply by watching some Youtube videos like this one and practicing the techniques in the shallow end of the pool. On average, most people in the UK are actually taller than the deep end of most 25 metre pools, so if you're feeling more confident and want to practice a new
stroke, you can confidently move further down from the shallow end.
Alternatively if online courses sound a bit too detached, you can coerce a friend that does know how to swim into teaching or accompanying you to your swims.
4. Learn at a Commercial Gym
Probably the easiest option for most is to head to their nearest gym (provided that gym has a swimming pool). Leisure centres part of the Better group tend to have a standardised swimming course structure, with contracts set up on a rolling basis from around £38 per month based on a weekly 40 minute session.
5. Check out offers and initiatives at your Local Council
Every so often, especially with a greater and greater emphasis on maintaining a healthy population and reducing the burden on the NHS, Councils and other government bodies come up with certain healthy initiatives to encourage its residents into a healthier lifestyle. One such borough to bring about a 'New Year, New Me' programme this year is Southwark Council, who are offering free swimming lessons across 5 different leisure centres within the borough to ANYONE over the age of 16 so long as they are residents within the borough. You will have to complete a short application form and a space is subject to availability, but if you are one of the lucky few to get a space, make full use of the opportunity as it's not everyday that a whole swimming course is provided for FREE.
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