Learn to Swim

A guide to the Learn to Swim Programme

Dolly Garland's Swim London 2016 blog

Dolly Garland tells us about her experience learning to swim with Swim London 2016 and what it has been like learning to swim as an adult…

I learned about Swim London 2016 just a few weeks before it was due to start from a friend of mine who’d already signed up.

This was in January, when I was already thinking about learning to swim, to be able to enjoy the pool on my upcoming holiday to Gran Canaria in June.

I’ve missed out on many pools and oceans because I couldn’t swim. This year, I decided, that had to change.

I’m 32, and most adults around me know how to swim. I learned too, as a child, but I was forced to do it, didn’t enjoy it, and didn’t continue once the lessons finished.

Now, 20 years later, it’s a different story. I chose to learn to swim. But even so, on my first day with Swim London 2016, I was nervous about even putting my face under water. By the end of that first lesson, I was happily floating.

Learning to swim with Swim London 2016

It’s been more than two months, and though I’m certainly not a naturally gifted swimmer, I have enjoyed every single session.

I have enjoyed the ones where I can do the things I’m good at (floating and gliding) and the ones where I struggle (tumble turns and breathing techniques). More importantly, I’ve seen myself progress over the two months, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come.

The social element is a massive part of why I’ve enjoyed the lessons.

All of us who are learning to swim with Swim London 2016 as part of the London Aquatics Centre group started our journey on the same day.

We come from different backgrounds, had different reasons why we couldn’t swim, and even different abilities.

But we had a shared purpose, and we were encouraged from the beginning by Harley and Danielle to support each other.

So over these two months, I haven’t just noticed my progress, but also my group mates’ progress. I have seen them improve massively, seen them overcome their fears, and seen them enjoy swimming.

Feeling proud of the team

I am proud of them, as I am proud of myself. Considering I couldn’t swim at all, and had a fear of jumping in the water as well as discomfort about putting my face under water, I not only swim the lengths of 25 metre pool, but have jumped off the ledge multiple times, and jumped off the block. And that’s despite having missed couple of weeks of lessons due to being abroad.

I wouldn’t have made this much progress, this quickly, while having fun, if it hadn’t been for the Swim London 2016 programme.

I have a long way to go yet to be as good as I would like to be, but Harley and Danielle have taught me well enough that if I continue to practice, I will continue to improve. And most importantly, I’m now confident about using that pool in Gran Canaria.