Love Disfigure swimming challenge breaks down barriers

Swim England News

Former swimming instructor Sylvia Mac is part way through a very special Swimathon.

Sylvia is donning a bikini and swimming 25 lengths a day for 25 days to raise awareness of Changing Faces, a charity that supports people with disfigurements.

Sylvia was severely burnt when she was a child and set the challenge to help educate the public about the importance of face equality.

She said: “For most of my childhood I spent my time trying to find the most solid swimming costume I could to cover up as much of my burn scars as I could but I realised all the while I wasn’t happy with myself and something had to change.

“As an adult I had been had been depressed and trying to cover myself up and I realised that I needed to do something positive to help other people in my situation, which is when I set up [the blog] Love Disfigure and also got in touch with the charity Changing Faces who do some amazing work.”

As well as the Love Disfigure Swimathon, Sylvia is also holding fortnightly swimming sessions for people with disfigurements at Highbury Pool, Islington.

Click here to support the Love Disfigure Swimathon on Just Giving.

Supported by social enterprise leisure operator Better, Sylvia came up with the idea of the sessions after realising a significant number of people with burns and marks and scars on their faces and bodies were avoiding swimming as they were worried by the thought of people staring at or judging them.

“I know from these sessions that there are people with disfigurements who want to go swimming with their children but don’t because they are worried how people will react by staring or judging them in some way,” said Sylvia.

“But I would urge them not to let other people’s lack of understanding get in their way and if they can come and join us at a session and get some support with making that first splash.”

Jamie Hooper, Swim England Health and Wellbeing Manager, said: “Sylvia’s challenge is totally inspiring. No one should feel they can’t go swimming because of the way they look. By showing others that it’s okay, Sylvia is helping to break down barriers, which is amazing.”

The next supported session takes place on 27 May at Highbury Pool in Islington. For more information click here or email sylvia@lovedisfigure.com.

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