Beijing Olympic silver medallist, Keri-anne Payne is urging nervous swimmers to overcome any anxieties they have about breathing, after it was reported that 1 in 5 adults in the UK cannot swim.
Payne, who is now an ambassador for Better, the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise, says that swimming has had a major impact on her physical and mental health:
“In terms of wellness and mindfulness, there’s something really calming and relaxing about the water which can really help us relieve our stresses or grievances. It’s why we enjoy listening to the sound of water or rain,” she says.
The open-water swimmer focusses on what it takes to gain confidence in the water. She tells Better that, in general, people’s biggest fear of swimming often comes from the fear of not being able to breathe, which affects willingness to even enter the water:
“The trick is to always remind yourself that you can always come up to breathe, and that way you’ll stop taking extra breathes and hyperventilating.”
Payne also shared intimate anecdotes about perseverance, encouraging us to overcome our adversities:
“An incident occurred in my race in the 2012 London Olympics where I caught a hit to the face, I was left in 12th position and it was a huge blow. I felt so downbeat but when I looked up [it was in Hyde Park with a crowd of 30,000 people], I saw all these people cheering me on, shouting my name and it really encouraged me to persevere through. I managed to come back from 12th to finish 4th!”
Top tips Keri-anne gave Better:
“Always focus on your body position in the water- you can achieve this by keeping your eyes focussed at the bottom of the water… or top of ceiling if doing backstroke.”
“Set yourself goals from the outset, sign up to an event and get sponsored for a charity to make the training/sport less about yourself and more about others around you.”
“Always do warm up exercises before entering the water to prevent injuries and strains. Exercises that strengthen your core are equally as important, as it’s constantly being worked in swimming!”
Swimming is an important exercise which helps both adults and children relieve stress, gain confidence and become fitter and healthier. Better is the UK’s largest provider of swimming lessons across the UK. They’ve recently produced several informative videos to help adults perfect their swimming strokes, which can be found here:
Additionally, they are helping children gain confidence and ability in the water with their affordable swimming lessons, which are rolled out across locations such as the state of the art London Aquatics Centre in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.