Swim England

A nation swimming

‘The world is an oyster’ says swim mum who urges importance of swimming lessons

Tomike Ogunleye, mum of three, explains that you never know when you might need the ‘extremely important’ and lifesaving skill of knowing how to swim.

The youngest of her three children is her son, Eri, who is currently at Learn to Swim Stage 4 on the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme.

Growing up in Nigeria, Tomike never learned how to swim and has always been determined to give Eri the opportunity she never had.

Alongside her husband Richard, the pair want to ensure that all their children are able to swim. Tomike said: “At the back of my mind I was thinking ‘we’re on an island surrounded by water’ so I wanted them to learn to swim.

“I believe that it’s really important that kids know how to swim, and not forgetting the older generation as well, we can all go back in the water and learn to swim.

“I think things would be better if we learn how to swim. The world is an oyster, kids don’t know where they’re going to find themselves in the future. They don’t know how important this skill might end up being.

“So it’s really really important that everybody gets going with this, especially in my community because I believe I’m just one of the few people that is not afraid of water.

“I just believe that you’re only afraid of what you don’t know. Acquire the skill to conquer the fear and you’ll be fine.

“Anything that is lifesaving is extremely important to me and should be to most people.”

Parental instinct

Eri is working towards achieving the four minimum standards for competency and was looking forward to his return to swimming lessons following the coronavirus lockdowns.

Seeing her children learning to swim also inspired Tomike to take up adult swimming lessons. She revealed that her ‘parental instincts’ were a large factor in her decision.

“I started the [Learn to Swim] journey – it started with wanting my kids to swim,” she added.

“I took them to their first lesson and I thought about parental instinct. Even if you don’t know how to swim, if you see your child struggling, you don’t really think when it comes to those situations.

“You just jump in and try to help, so I decided that I was going to learn how to swim myself.”

Beginning lessons herself has also improved Tomike’s knowledge and understanding of what it takes to be a competent swimmer.

She hopes to commit some time to get back into her lessons and join Eri on the path to achieving water competency.

Swimming water competency standards explained: