Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

'This is not the end but the beginning of my swimming journey' by LadyXsize

Radio and TV presenter, LadyXsize has just completed her 12-week swimming journey with the Swim London 2016 project. In this blog, LadyXsize tells us about conquering her first dive and the new confidence she has gained in the water… 

Over the last few weeks I have grown in confidence and ability. My biggest highlight over the last few sessions has been swimming in deep water once the floor was lowered.  The first time I tried this, the water felt heavy and uncomfortable, but then I got into my stride.

Click here to find out more about the Swim London 2016 project

Lowering the floor in the pool and learning to tread water was a major stepping stone for me as it enabled me to lose my fear of deep water swimming. So when this happened the next time, my fear had disappeared. This was  because I knew I could swim to the other side if need be, or that I could float on my back, or the newest skill that I picked up, I could tread water. All techniques I learned with Swim London 2016.

The London Aquatic Centre is such an incredible venue and I absolutely love being there. Who would’ve thought that a year ago I would need to be dragged to the pool and hated getting my hair wet.  Now I can’t wait for the experience of immersing myself in the water in this stunning venue and challenging myself.

My First Dive

On week 10, I attempted to dive. We were all jumping into the pool, so I asked if I could dive. I tried it a long time ago but no one had actually shown me the correct technique. So my first attempt was an underwhelming but decidedly loud belly flop. Despite this my ego told itself that the dive wasn’t actually too bad – well I managed to find the water!

However Paul, my swim buddy soon put paid to this as he commented on the extreme decibels reached with my dive/flop. My pride dented and a little embarrassed I was determined to get this right.

Little by Little my swim coach, Harley gave me encouragement and showed me the techniques for perfect diving. There was one benefit though of the belly flop, it appeared to give a temporary facelift, I looked 10 years younger, albeit a slightly shocked 10 years younger. Although I enjoy challenges Tom Daley need not worry at this stage!

Week 11, saw us learning the butterfly stroke. I’ve always wanted to do this and hadn’t a clue where to begin with it, or what was really happening when people were doing it. It’s the sort of stroke that if you try it and don’t know what you are doing, you will either hurt yourself or somebody else.

I absolutely loved it though and managed to remain injury free! Just being given the knowledge, then the freedom to try, get it wrong and keep trying without feeling self-conscious or pressurised to get it right was very liberating.

One of the unexpected developments that came out of Swim London 2016 for me was that I got close to my afro hair. For years I have been wearing wigs, almost in an attempt to hide it, so it was lovely just to take the wig off, admittedly replace it with a swimming cap, but, it was great to just wash my afro each week.

Often, I would hide it away unloved for weeks at a time. Interesting enough, I started my Swim London journey with my hair in single plaits. These became very tangled so I let them out and just went au naturel. Much better. My afro held its own.

This is only the beginning of my swimming journey

It’s been an incredible journey, but I have come to the end of my Swim London programme. However, this isn’t really the end, it’s actually the beginning.

The way I see it, I am now confident. I am not afraid to go swimming on my own, or with friends. I am not afraid to swim in the deep end of the pool, because I know firstly that I won’t sink and secondly if I need to swim to the side of the pool, I can do it.

What I can’t believe is the progression from everyone else. People who were fearful of the water itself, now happily swimming in it and in deep water. My confidence can only grow from here. So thank you Harley and the gang, for showing me the way. If I am ever asked whether I can swim or not, I will say, “Yes, I can swim!!”