Swimming journey begins

Great East Swim training at Fritton Lake
Great East Swim training at Fritton Lake

As we sat around the pool waiting to start, it was interesting to see the different people and different motives that had led to them taking up the swimming offer.

I was among a group of around 20 teenagers and young adults to be taking up offer, subsidised by Suffolk County Council and Sport England, which includes 12 training sessions, leisure centre membership, wetsuit hire and entry to the Great East Swim, which it is geared towards getting inactive people ready for.

Great East Swim training at Fritton Lake

Great East Swim training at Fritton Lake

There were people here to lose weight, others to get active again, some who had been swimmers years ago and wanted to get into the sport again and some that wanted to complete the challenge of swimming either a half mile or mile on June 21 at Alton Water.

The first session at Haverhill Leisure Centre last Sunday (March 23) saw assessors looking at our swimming ability so they could split us into groups for the remainder of the 11 sessions.

It was strange to swim while being observed, not knowing what they are jotting down as how this will used for my improvement.

Despite being fairly active and taking part in triathlons, swimming has always been my Achilles’ heel in that sport and so I hope my progress through the scheme should be easily measurable.

I am usually among the back of the pack during open water swimming, keeping the kayaking safety officials company as they wait to finish their duties, and though I can manage breaststroke for long periods I find myself shattered after a short distance of front crawl.

Having seen others use this stroke for long distances and manage a decent pace – backstroke is illegal in open water swimming events as those in trouble are instructed to lay on their back and raise an arm to attract a marshal’s attention – I hope to be able to develop the technique to front crawl at a steady pace myself.

As we were monitored in the pool I found myself breathless after two laps of front crawl, so have some way to go to achieving completing the equivalent of 64 laps in June.

This Sunday (March 30) Haverhill open water swimmer Danny Proffitt, an experienced open water swimmer who came through the ranks with West Suffolk Swimming Club and was an Abbeycroft leisure ‘Inspire Me’ cover star last year, will be one of the instructors aiming to improve the groups’ swimming.

He will soon be joined by retired champion veteran triathlete Barbara Leverett, a previous St Edmundsbury Sports Personality of the Year.

It seemed a brief initial session but was exciting to be beginning a journey that will hopefully result in noticeable improvement, and it will be interesting to see just how far myself and the others have progressed to reaching our goals in three months’ time.

The subsidised offer is worth over £200 but costs £25 and is available for those aged 12 to 25 in Haverhill and Newmarket, with training at both leisure centres culminating in the Great East Swim.

Those under 16 need parental/guardian’s permission and can only do the half mile swim.

The young person’s Sportivate programme is funded by Sport England’s Sportive initiative and delivered in partnership with Suffolk Sport and Suffolk County Council.

If you are interested in taking part contact programme coordinator Corinna Hudson on 07905 829162 or e-mail corinna@greenleap.co.uk

For all the latest news and sport see Thursday’s (April 3) Echo.