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Novice swimmers in Hackney take the plunge in build-up to European Championships

PUBLISHED: 18:19 03 February 2016 | UPDATED: 18:19 03 February 2016

Participants in the Swim London 2016 campaign

Participants in the Swim London 2016 campaign

Archant

Hackney residents have been urged to take up swimming for the first time as part of Swim London 2016 – a legacy project for the forthcoming European Aquatics Championships.

With London 2016 starting in under 100 days’ time, the aim is to enable more adults to become ‘waterproof’, and the key message being projected is that non-swimmers are not alone.

Twenty-one per cent of adults in England are unable to swim – and the goal now is to get more local people swimming, with 225 first-timers aged 18 across five London boroughs to spearhead the scheme.

Many of those living in communities close to the iconic London Aquatics Centre can take part in an exciting team event during the championships, with residents in Hackney, Waltham Forest, Newham and Tower Hamlets encouraged to sign up, and Greenwich joining the list 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 championships – swimming in the former Olympic pool, in full competition mode, in front of a crowd of family and friends.

Hackney resident Tracey Primus, who has already signed up to Swim London 2016, 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!”

Fellow participant Abeid Khan, also from Hackney, said: “My experience of swimming is entry level. As a child I used to pretend I was a goldfish 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. This would change my life!”

The first lessons start on Saturday. To get involved with Swim London 2016 follow @SwimHackney on Twitter.

For more information about the 2016 European Aquatics Championships, visit www.euroaquatics2016.london


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