Swimming with my daughter inspired me to learn at 40 ... now I've completed a triathlon

They say life begins at 40 – and when it came to swimming, that was certainly the case for mum Dawn Haskett.

She challenged herself to learn to swim following her 40th birthday so she could enjoy family time in the pool with her six-year-old daughter while on holiday.

Now Dawn has even taken part in her first-ever triathlon after learning how to swim as an adult and shares her story as part of the latest Swim England-led #LoveSwimming campaign.

Dawn said: “I signed up for the Woodhall Spa Triathlon as I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and I just loved it.

“I started lessons in January and I don’t want to stop. It’s something I’ve really come to enjoy but I do still get a bit nervous in the water.

“When I did my triathlon, I could see that I was the weakest but everyone was very encouraging and strangers were cheering me on.

“I explained that I had never swam before [January], so it was great achievement.

“My daughter is only six. As soon as I could put her into lessons, at three years old, I did and I drummed into her that it was so important.

“In the past when we went on holidays, I would just sit at the side of the pool.

“But on our last holiday, we got to be in the pool together and we were having swimming competitions.”

My first lesson

Dawn admitted feeling sightly apprehensive before taking part in her first swimming lesson but said the teachers did a great job.

She said: “I was a bit nervous and didn’t know how many people would be in the pool. There was six of us and after a week, I could do a full length.

“The first night was little lengths and practising breathing. All the staff at the pool have been great and helped me feel relaxed.

“I didn’t have the confidence in the water. I was self-conscious but no one is bothered about how big or small you are – they are just there to help.

“And the teachers are there to support you – they’ll get in the pool with you to help if needed. Sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone a little bit to push yourself.

“After nearly 10 months, I’m up to 800m and I have one more certificate left to get which is the one-mile certificate.

“I’m certificate mad! I love collecting them and I need to get the last one now.

“When I first started, I couldn’t swim and breathe and talk at same time. But now I can and I have a chat to people as I’m going up and down.

“And when you’re swimming and having a chat, you don’t realise you’ve done five or six lengths.

“Getting into the water, I feel like I can take a breather and this is my time, which is great. I look forward to going swimming every week.”

If you have been inspired to swim by Dawn’s story, use Swim England’s Poolfinder to locate your nearest centre.