For years, when on holiday in Ayia Napa, Charlie Dark would â€œlook cool around the pool with my sunglasses on and get in the shallow end but thatâ€™s as far as my skills wentâ€. But now the 44-year-old DJ and creative writing teacher is learning to swim for the first time so he can enjoy swimming with his two children.
Dark is far from unusual: according to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA),Â one in five adultsÂ in England are unable to swim â€“ more than nine million people â€“ despite swimming also being the most popular participation sport in the country.
Like many, Darkâ€™s memories of school swimming lessons are not fond ones: the teachers â€œjust stood on the side and shouted at youâ€, and so he grew up with a secret fear of the water.
Six weeks ago, however, he joined a challenge in which 15 non-swimming adults began training to do theÂ Great North SwimÂ â€“ a mile in open water â€“ in four monthsâ€™ time.
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