Portsmouth dad overcomes fear of the water for quality family time

Jamal Hussan says swimming lessons have changed his life – after being inspired into the water by his young daughter to ensure they could always spend quality time together.

Jamal, a swimmer who had his first-ever lesson aged 45, realised that if his own fear was shown to his daughter as she began her learn to swim journey, it might leave her in a similar position to him – scared of the water and forced to miss out on swimming opportunities.

Now, having learned to swim and boosting his confidence dramatically, Jamal is supporting a new campaign launched by Swim England that looks to dispel the myths and stigma around learning to swim as an adult.

New research indicates there remains a number of inaccurate and damaging misconceptions about adult swimming lessons, resulting in many just like Jamal, missing out on learning an invaluable life skill or rediscovering their love for the water.

Reflecting on why swimming lessons have made such a difference in his life and given him the opportunity to make the most of time with his family, Jamal said: “I first brought my daughter to start her lessons and she actually inspired me to get into the water.

“At first, I was really scared because it was something I’d never done before at all. I was always worried that if I was taking my daughter, then I wouldn’t be able to go in the water with her and I’d miss out on that time with her.

I do feel more confident

“When you think about the barriers to why people might avoid lessons, if I’m honest I think body shape, age, all play a role. But that shouldn’t be getting in the way for anyone to start lessons.

“Thanks to lessons, I do feel more confident on a daily basis now. That hour that I get in the water, it gives you a real therapy and I would urge anyone to just go for it!”

The sector is looking to inspire more people into the water at any stage of their life – with data currently suggesting as many as half of adults feel it’s intimidating to learn to swim as an adult, and more than two in five feeling swimming lessons aren’t for ‘people like me’.

Worryingly, some appear to be more adversely affected by these misconceptions, with those from ethnically diverse communities even more likely to report that lessons would be intimidating.

Despite this, there is a clear latent demand of non-swimmers ready to take the plunge and start their swimming journey.

1.7 million people from ethnically diverse communities have not been swimming in the last 12 months, but want to swim in next 12 months.

Essential life skill

As part of the latest #LoveSwimming campaign, more adults are being urged to get back into swimming, whether they be a complete beginner or rediscovering their love for the water.

Katie Towner, Swim England’s head of learn to swim, said: “Jamal’s story is extremely inspiring and we believe no one should feel as though it’s too late for them to learn to swim, or that there are any barriers to them having their first lesson at any age or ability level.

“Our new research reveals a number of misconceptions about swimming lessons that we are want to dispel once and for all – whether it concerns what you should wear in the water, lesson privacy, or who swimming is for.

“We all know that swimming is an essential life skill – but for so many across the nation it is the gateway to creating amazing memories with your family, becoming healthier and happier, and achieving full confidence in the water.

“Knowing that so many want to swim but lack the confidence or knowledge to get started, we are delighted to be launching our latest wave of #LoveSwimming to break down barriers and inspire more adults into the water.”

To sign up to lessons at your local pool, visit swimming.org/loveswimming.

Watch Jamal’s journey