'Inspire a Generation'
After the London 2012 Olympics, I sat in the athlete’s village in our apartment and wondered what would come next for me. It was a tough question to ask.
For me, swimming had been my life. From learning how to swim when I was 3, to winning 4 Olympic medals, I wondered how I could carry on my love for swimming after all those years of competing. I looked around and saw ‘inspire a generation’ on all the posters as the Olympic motto.
Most people would have only seen the Olympic medals being won and been unaware of the hard struggles that existed and still exist at grassroots levels. It was scary to learn that over 1 million children leave primary school unable to swim. This, I found completely frightening.
The birth of swim!...and her baby daughter!
I had spent the 4 years from Beijing 2008 to London 2012 promoting swimming in the best ways I could, but it wasn’t enough. I knew straight away that I wanted to make more of a difference. After the 2012 Olympics, with the word ‘legacy’ and those scary statistics in mind, I decided to set up swim! and haven’t looked back. It’s been an incredible journey with over 13,000 kids a week now being taught how to swim - a life-saving skill.
In 2015, my life completely changed when I became a mother to a beautiful little daughter. Not only does your lifestyle change when you become a parent but I personally changed so much too. A softer, more maternal side came out which I never truly realised I had.
She was an absolute bundle of joy and a ray of sunshine hence the name we gave her, ‘Summer’. Don’t get me wrong, it came with its challenges as she didn’t sleep for the first year and she was a fussy eater…and she’s now 6 going on 16. But I wouldn’t change it for the world!
The impact of the Covid Pandemic
In 2020, lockdown was a massive, unforeseen challenge and one that no one could have predicted. I certainly didn’t expect such a huge disruption just as we were about to launch our very first baby swimming lessons for 0-3 year olds. As you can imagine, this was very difficult to do when the pools were closed!
But every cloud has a silver lining, and the best part of lockdown was welcoming our little boy Albie in March 2021. It was love at first sight for us all. Summer adores her little brother, as he does her and there is never a shortage of smiles when they are around each other.
I had forgotten about a lot of the newborn baby stage with having a bigger age gap between the children, but Albie has been a dream. He’s such a happy baby - full of life and mischief.
Thankfully for everyone, the pools opened back up in April 2021 so we were able to finally launch all of our swim! baby lessons and coincidentally, one of the first sign-ups was Albie! He started his lessons at 5 weeks old and taking him is still a highlight of our week.
He has so much fun, interacts with the teacher and the other children and you can clearly see him progressing in the water as the weeks go by. Not only does Albie love his lessons but it is also a great chance for me, as an adult, to enjoy some social time with other parents too…why should the kids have all the fun!? It is also a time for no distractions, one on one time with your little one and learning new skills together.
My greatest achievements
Even being an Olympic champion doesn’t compare to raising Summer and Albie and they are by far my greatest achievement. Being able to watch Summer confidently swim in the big pool at her swim! lessons, to then get in the water with Albie at his swim! lessons makes me incredibly proud and emotional. I will forever be grateful for everything that swimming has given me and will continue to give me going forward.
Want to find out more about swim! baby?
Our programme swim! baby lessons for parents and babies (ages 0-3), focussing on water safety, confidence and bonding time.
- Come along to a FREE swim! baby intro before you book
- The sessions promote quality time for you and baby to bond and learn at your baby's own pace
- We have expertly trained teachers in the water to support you and baby
- The sessions include fun, sensory equipment to stimulate and support your baby’s development
- There is a seamless pathway onto swim! lessons from 3 years old
- You can access your account online, to track your baby's progress and manage your bookings
- Clean, modern and warm changing rooms designed for babies, toddlers and their swim! buddies
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