John learns to swim at 85
At 87 years old most people are thinking about slowing down and making the most of their retirement, not learning how to swim.
Yet for the past year, John Guth from Colchester has been doing just that. The octogenarian began learning to swim in 2010 when his local pool at Leisure World Colchester started running a course of free swimming lessons for customers aged 60+.
John did try swimming as a child in the 1930s but a combination of limited access and never really being very athletically minded meant that he didn’t have much luck.
“I’ve never been afraid of the water, it’s just that being born in the 20s there really wasn’t much opportunity to swim, so I never learned,” said John.
Amazingly, when John started his swimming lessons it had been 68 years since he had last stepped foot into a swimming pool. The last time he had been swimming was as a 19 year old in 1942.
As a full time carer, John was encouraged to take up the free swimming lessons at his local pool to get some exercise and spend some time out of the house each week.
John said, “My wife’s night carer swims and when I told her that I couldn’t she recommend that I sign up for the free swimming lessons.”
Most people might feel self-conscious attending swimming lessons in their eighties but John believes that this is nonsense, “The lessons are superb. There is so much going on that as long as they are able, there is no excuse for anyone not to swim.
“I would definitely recommend it to people of all ages.”
After being a non-swimmer for so many years, John has now mastered many of the swimming strokes and he is now able to swim on his back, which he says he still can’t quite believe.
Over a year on since his first swimming lesson, John now swims once a week for 30 minutes in an intermediate class.
Swimming for just half an hour can have huge health benefits. A gentle swim can burn up to 350 calories and there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that diseases and conditions, which are the primary causes of loss of function and independence in later life, can be prevented through regular physical activity.
As well as improving his health and fitness levels, the swimming lessons have provided an important social opportunity and John says that he has met some really pleasant people.
For further information about the benefits of swimming for 30 minutes and to find out how you can join the UK as it gets back in the water as part of the Big Splash campaign, click here.