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A nation swimming

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Aysha and Raj will bring ‘wealth of experience’ to Swim England Board

Two new members who have been appointed to the Swim England Board aim to use their roles to stress the importance of learning how to swim from an early age.

Aysha Kidwai and Raj Kumar will bring a ‘wealth of experience’ to the national governing body and are keen to ensure people from all backgrounds are experiencing the joys of aquatic activity as soon as possible.

A ‘traumatic experience’ during a school swimming lesson led to Aysha developing a phobia of swimming and not overcoming her fears until she was in her late twenties.

Raj also didn’t learn until he was in his twenties ‘as it wasn’t seen as important’ – a message he is keen to change.

Aysha, who has 25 years’ experience in brand management across the retail, media and consumer products industries, said: “At a young formative age, I had an unfortunate traumatic experience with a school initiated lesson and almost drowned, which subsequently led to a phobia of swimming for several years.  

“I taught myself in my late twenties, when I realised this was a considerable shortfall, by observing my friends and now I am able to swim.

“I think my childhood experience taught me it pays dividends to challenge one’s fears. 

Essential skill

“I wish to therefore lend my support to embed recreational swimming and swimming for sport in every community, as not only a rewarding and useful skill to have, but one that improves one’s overall wellbeing, health and longevity, promotes greater community integration and instills this from the early stages of life.”

Raj, who is currently the group brand and reputation director for insurance company Aviva, added: “Swimming is an essential skill, one that also keeps people fit, healthy and happy, yet so many don’t experience it. 

“I didn’t learn to swim until I was in my twenties, because it was not seen as important. I would like to ensure that people from all backgrounds are attracted to and start experiencing the joys of swimming at an early age. 

“There is work to be done to both broaden and sustain the appeal of swimming.”

Sue Smith MBE, Swim England chair, said: “We’re delighted to welcome both Aysha and Raj onto the board.

“They have a wealth of personal and professional experience which will prove to be invaluable to us.

“We look forward to working closely with them in the future and are confident they can help us achieve our vision of a nation swimming.”