Waterproofing YOURSELF for Life!

My name is Lorna and I work in the HR department in Aura. When I was a kid my dad brought me and by brother and sister to swimming lessons, I hated them!

The teacher was a cranky lady who I felt had no patience and didn’t seem to understand if you had a genuine fear of the water. My poor dad persisted in bringing me for nearly 3 years and really the only thing I learnt was to fear water even more, hate the swimming teacher and dread Saturday mornings, not even the promise of a treat after could stop me from complaining the whole way over!

As an adult I have tried a number of times to get into the water but could never quite get over the fear of floating, which I guess is key to swimming! Any of the lessons I joined had all older women who wanted a social outing and a teacher who never got into the water.

When I joined Aura the idea of learning to swim popped into my head again and then this summer we launched an internal wellbeing programme encouraging everyone to try something new and share with the company so I decided this was it, I was going to learn how to swim. I am going away in November and will be spending a day in an elephant orphanage where you can bath the baby elephants in the river but you need to be able to swim in case they dunk you! I now had the means to learn and a goal to get to and the support of the company so with that I signed up to the adult swim lessons in Aura DePaul on a Thursday night. I was surprised at the people in the class, they were all around my age with a determination to succeed so I knew I was in good company. My swimming teacher is Andy Philips a colleague I already know and as nervous as I was I knew it would be hard for him too teaching a colleague in his classes but I didn’t really have anything to worry about he has such a calming and positive influence.

The first thing I noticed was how much the techniques in teaching you how to swim had changed, Andy got into the water with us and has stayed in the water throughout all our lessons which I found to be so reassuring. Andy spoke to us all as a group to prepare us for the lessons and then individually to get us started on what we needed to learn. We were given the instruction and individual attention needed to get us started then the space to practice our new skill until we felt confident with it. However Andy will not let us get too comfortable and is always watching to move us on to the next step in case we get too stuck in our comfort zones and stop pushing ourselves forward.

Some of the biggest challenges for me have been getting the breathing right, I found that when I would lift my head to breathe I wasn’t going anywhere and Andy explained it was the resistance of lifting your head up and why it is important to take short breaths to keep moving, makes sense once someone explains it to you! Also I find that at the start of every lesson I still have a bit of fear so my challenge now to myself to is practice in between lessons to gradually get myself over that fear. I am now in lesson 6 of term 1 and I am able to swim widths (stopping in-between but still!) and I have learnt to float on my back with the help of a pool noodle. I am really looking forward to the day when I can do all this with ease and confidence. I never thought when I started I would get this far this quickly but it is a testament to Andy’s dedication and instruction and I will definitely be signing up for term 2 so watch this space!