The LEN European Aquatics Championships marked 100 days to go until the start of the historic event by launching a new project to get local people swimming: Swim London 2016 – London Learns to Swim.
Swim London 2016 offers those living in communities close to the iconic London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park the opportunity to learn how to swim and take part in a unique and exciting team event during the European Aquatics Championships.
Over 21 per cent of adults in England are unable to swim, according to statistics released by the ASA, and Swim London 2016 will aim to introduce 225 people who currently don’t swim to get involved.
Those aged 18 and older living in Hackney, Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets will be encouraged to sign up to the project, with Greenwich being added to the list of London boroughs from June.
Three 12-week swimming courses will be held in each area and everyone who takes part will be encouraged to learn as a group and support one another.
Those who sign up to the first course will also have the opportunity to train towards participating in a special team relay event during the London 2016 European Aquatics Championships – swimming in the former Olympic competition pool, in full competition mode, in front of a crowd of family and friends.
Tracey Primus from Hackney has already signed up to Swim London 2016 – London Learns to Swim and said: “I can’t lie, I am a little anxious about my swimming lessons and I am not sure how they are going to prise me from the side of the pool but I am looking forward to being part of the project. I can’t wait to jump in the sea with my nephew for the first time this summer. I am tired of watching and cheering from the sidelines. I am going to go from cheerleader to fear-leader!”
Abeid Khan is also from Hackney and has signed up to the project, he said: “My experience of swimming is entry level, as a child I used to pretend I was a gold fish with side-to-side gliding motions, always staying in the paddling section staring into the distance with my friends in the cool adult deep end jumping from the boards.
“I felt like an absolute fish finger not knowing how I could interact with the water, and at the time not being able to play with my friends who looked like they were having so much fun. I would love the opportunity to learn with other people in your amazing classes. This would change my life!”
Nyannka Fountaine from Waltham Forest has signed up as well and said: “Starting these lessons are to be honest quite daunting, it’s something I’ve wanted to learn for a long, long time but due to the fear of the water I’ve constantly put it off. Although daunting, I am looking forward to learning a new skill not only to be able to finally swim on holiday but to be confident and not fearful of the water. It’s a fantastic scheme that gets everyone involved and I’m ready to jump in!”
Tom Chambers, London 2016 European Aquatics Championships CEO, said: “We are delighted to launch Swim London 2016 with exactly 100 days to go to the European Aquatics Championships. The London Aquatics Centre is at the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and we want the Championships to touch as many people local to the venue as possible. Swim London 2016 offers a unique opportunity for people to take part in the historic event and also an opportunity to make friends that we hope will last a lifetime. Grass roots and providing a wider social experience is key to Swim London 2016 and we are looking forward to seeing the project grow.”
Nick Caplin, Director of Participation at the ASA, said: “This is a fantastic project that we hope will inspire many local people to have a go at swimming. While our elite athletes are getting ready to take part in the European Aquatics Championships and the summer Olympics, we want to get London swimming and prove that it is never too late to learn to swim and have fun in the pool.”
Andrew Clark, GLL National Sport and Aquatics Manager, said: “The European Aquatics Championships taking place in London this year is an exciting prospect for everyone involved in sport, but for many adults in London the prospect of swimming is similar to many other common phobias. This may be due to the lack of opportunity to learn how to swim and feel confident in a pool, or an incident which may have put them off in childhood.
“The key message is that you are not alone and it is never too late to learn. As a social enterprise and the largest operator of swimming pools in the UK, we are committed to giving everyone the opportunity to learn to swim and we are delighted that one of the key legacies of London 2016 will allow more adults the opportunity to become ‘waterproof’ and access this programme.”