Learn to Swim Companion

A guide for parents and learners

Angellica Bell: My swimming story so far

BBC TV presenter Angellica Bell has started her own swimming journey at her local Virgin Active centreShe explains her swimming progress in and out of the pool… 

Well, hello! I thought it was about time to give you an update on my progress with my swimming lessons. I’ve had four half hour sessions so far with my Virgin Active swim instructor, Sharon, who is absolutely lovely as a person and amazing as a teacher.

With anything, having someone you connect with immediately when doing something personal and new is the key to success in my opinion. I know this helped me enormously, as entering the water for the first time I was filled with trepidation.

It was the not knowing if I could actually master what I was setting out to do, anxiety because I thought people might look and laugh at me and embarrassment as I hadn’t been in a swimming costume since having two children. So no, this isn’t something that is going to come easily.

It’s all in the preparation

One of the biggest problems for me is simply getting motivated. I can’t just jump into the pool, jump out and get on with my day. It takes serious preparation. The first time I went for a lesson, I forgot to pack my underwear (whoops)! The second time I forgot my moisturiser. It was getting quite frustrating to put it lightly. So I’ve had to have a swimming bag prepared and ready so I don’t forget anything ever again!

One reason why I hated swimming when I was younger was because of my hair and that was initially still posing a problem. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but my frizzy mass takes a lot of work to tame and takes ages to sort out once it hits water.

So after my first three lessons I was still blow drying my hair forty-five minutes after leaving the pool – NIGHTMARE!

But I’ve since found one of the best things known to man after the good old spanx; the swimming cap! Yes, something I vowed many years ago I would never wear. I’ve got over the fact that my head looks like an egg, and now realise it makes the experience a hundred times easier and I want to go again.

My steady progress in the pool

In terms of what is going on in the water, it’s been a slow but steady progression. Once I’m in the water and have stopped complaining about it being cold, I get quite into it.

I’m learning bi-lateral breathing for my front crawl and have started my breaststroke technique. I haven’t yet managed a full length in either stroke, to me it’s near impossible as I’m completely out of breath. I’m not sure how swimmers do it to be honest.

I need to get swim fit and that’s going to take practice and patience which means I need to make time to get into the pool which isn’t easy juggling family, work and all the other day to day chores that take over our lives.

But one things for sure, there’s progress and that’s the main thing!

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