The iconic London Aquatics Centre, on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, is offering its This Girl Can Swim session on Wednesday 8 March for free. This free sessions is to celebrate This Girl Can Swim gaining over 1200 visits from more than 50 local women and girls, from different backgrounds and ethnicities since 2016, to get into the pool and be active for International Women’s Day.
Swimming for many people can feel daunting due to stripping down to your swimwear and baring all in front of a pool full of strangers. Better, the operators of the London Aquatics Centre, in partnership with This Girl Can, introduced the This Girl Can Swim sessions to encourage women and girls who feel this way to take part in swimming and the many benefits that come with it.
Swimming is a relaxing and enjoyable way to help unwind and improve health and wellbeing, whilst also providing an experience that is great value for money. This Girl Can Swim sessions are for women and girls of all ages and abilities. They are not about swimming fast or about stroke technique; instead its about de-stressing and relaxation of the mind, body and soul. Handy storage spaces at the poolside mean swimmers don’t need to bare all until they are ready to swim. Appropriate forms of swim wear including bikinis, cosies and swimming t-shirts are all allowed in the pool – to help the comfort of the swimmers.
London Aquatics Centre’s This Girl Can Swim Activators, Farzana Saddiq and Chevelle Jackson, are ASA qualified swim teachers with backgrounds in customer service. Their role as Activators is to provide support during the sociable sessions, answering any queries or questions and helping improve swimming technique for the swimmers if wanted.
Chevelle, said, ”I have experienced how daunting exercise can be for women – especially if they have never done it before or do not do it regularly. As bad as it is, society often portrays the perfect woman as someone that most women are not, and this can be very discouraging for women of all shapes and sizes and from different backgrounds. My aim is to help to break down barriers and to help get rid of the stigma attached to those who do not fit the typical ‘perfect woman’. Society should not be allowed to define who we are.”
Farzana, said, “I come from a background where being active wasn’t seen as being important for women. I had to educate my parents and show them that it is important for everyone to stay fit and healthy. Through these sessions I can help other women stay active and educate more women and girls on the benefits of swimming in a relaxed and comfortable environment.”
One participant of the sessions at London Aquatics Centre, said, “Everyone is coming and doing the same thing so you feel comfortable and it motivates you a lot more”, and another said, “The first time I was here I literally just held onto the wall and did exercises I couldn’t have done out of the water, I am scared but it’s getting better!”.
For International Women’s Day, on Wednesday 8 March, London Aquatics Centre is holding its weekly This Girl Can Swim session for free, with free tea and coffee provided, from 12pm to 1pm. No pre-booking is needed for the session, more information about This Girl Can Swim can be seen here, www.better.org.uk/thisgirlcanswim, and more information about the London Aquatics Centre can be seen here, www.londonaquaticscentre.org.