Saska, Debbie and Alan
2015 GREAT EAST SWIM OUTREACH PROGRAMME
Saska responded to a newspaper article about getting fit and joining the training programme in February of 2015. She had had lens replacement surgery on her eyes in 2014, as she was very shortsighted and just wouldn’t have considered learning to swim, particularly because she was frightened of the water.
At that time she wasn’t at all sporty and relatively physically inactive apart from dog walking. Saska was nervous about doing the training at first and thought she would be one of the most unfit in the group but after speaking with Corinna, the Project lead, she gave it a go. She had to work hard on building her water confidence but the training had a great atmosphere and she soon relaxed and started to improve her confidence and her technique.
Saska remembers “We all used to chat like mad in the showers and changing rooms after each session because it made you feel so good, and we encouraged each other. Sometimes I didn’t love the thought of going, but I was always so glad that I did”.
Her health improved during the training, her stamina increased and overall she just felt a real sense of well being . In 2015 she successfully completed the Great East Swim half mile course.
Debbie was actually first challenged to take up open water swimming by her sister over a few drinks one evening. She saw details about the programme and her and her husband decided to apply for it. The Great East Swim that year was on their wedding anniversary so they laughed and said it could be their present to each other.
Debbie could swim a bit on her side when she started but wasn’t water confident and she particularly didn’t like deep water. But they did encourage each other and she found having a goal and a focus was a massive help with motivation.
Debbie said “ The coaching from Shamus was amazing, although the 12 weeks were challenging and I never thought I’d complete it, but I started to have more energy, my blood pressure improved, so did my breathing capacity and I changed shape for the better!” Debbie’s biggest fear of the event was the wet suit.
She felt weird when she first put it on and she actually cried at the start of the swim. But once she entered the acclimatisation area and made a start, she gained her confidence that the training had provided and she was fine and completed the 1 mile swim.
Alan, was by his own admission very unfit before the programme, sitting a lot, reading and was almost completely physically inactive. He could swim relatively well, but hadn’t done any swimming for well over a year. Alan had a cochlear implant many years ago, before which he had no hearing at all. He decided he needed to make some changes to his lifestyle and so with some trepidation he signed up.
He found the swimming training quite difficult, and the real challenge for him was learning to swim front crawl. He questioned himself whether he would actually be able to do it. He didn’t have the support of any friends who wanted to take part with him, so meeting new friends in the training group was a massive help for Alan, and the motivation and camaraderie was everything for him.
During the twelve week programme, he lost about two stone in weight, his blood pressure improved as did his stamina and breathing and he was extremely proud to complete the one mile course in just forty minutes.
AND THEY ARE STILL SWIMMING NOW
Saska, Debbie and Alan loved the experience of taking part in the 2015 Great East Swim, the 12 weeks training and how it made them feel, so much so that they were ‘hooked’ and they have been swimming ever since.
They still swim regularly at Felixstowe and Woodbridge swimming pools but they also started to enjoy outdoor sea swimming regularly, where they met up with each other again.
There’s an informal group called Sea Capers and through Facebook, they arrange to meet up and swim, and importantly they still socialise! Alan mostly does sea swimming now but Debbie swims every day in the pool.
Debbie says “I feel like a dried prune if I don’t go”. She swims with her husband Roger and they have also taken up kayaking.
Saska swims at least four times a week now, both in the pool and at Felixstowe. Debbie admits that if she sees a piece of water she immediately thinks “I wonder if I can swim in that”
They all agree that the health benefits of introducing swimming and exercise into their lives are really important, and they love how it makes them feel…energised, confident, more toned and gives them a positive perspective on life.
But without a doubt the friendships which they have formed are the most important thing to this group and they intend to carry on swimming forever!