Swimming is a wonderful sport. My family run a swim school in Hatch End and we've taught thousands of people, from six month babies to swimmers in their eighties. Because it's so low impact, swimming is a great choice for most people, regardless of their level of fitness. I swam until week forty when I was pregnant, and loved the feeling of being weightless and free to move in the water at a time when I was feeling so uncomfortable and ungraceful on land.
My family are swimmers and swimming teachers. My paternal grandfather was an open water swimmer, regularly taking on the cold temperatures of Ireland's lakes. My dad was a club swimmer, then a coach and swimming teacher, and he still swims himself (and I'm still trying to beat him in the pool)!
My maternal grandfather is Bill Bristow, a well-known name amongst swimmers in the area. He was the fastest man to swim the Channel in 1959, and he went on to train Channel and open water swimmers. He helped found and run Harrow Swimming Club and coached at Barnet before he started Hatch End Swim School with my mum, and he's still enjoying teaching swimming now. My mum, Joyce, has taught swimming for over forty years and runs Hatch End Swim School. She has such a passion for the sport - nothing, in her eyes, can't be fixed with a "good swim".
My brother and cousins swim, and my aunt teaches with the swim school too - we have swimming in the DNA!
I was sent an article by my dad recently about a swimmer called Jane Asher (click here to read the article in full), who's still training at 84 years old. She set 75 FINA Masters World Records with some eye watering times, and she competes in every event, despite a hip replacement! She has taught and coached younger swimmers, and feels she's got faster, rather than slower, with age.
Jane Asher is a hugely inspiring lady, but I know another lady in her eighties who has inspired plenty of swimmers. My nan swims twice a week in Masters sessions. She doesn't hold any world records, but she turns up with enthusiasm in any weather, every week. Her perseverance is incredible, and she does more exercise than people a quarter of her age. My nan didn't learn to swim until her forties because of a fear of deep water, but my mum taught her to overcome her anxiety, and she does the family proud every week in the pool.
It doesn't matter if you're a hare or a tortoise when it comes to swimming, it doesn't matter if you do one width or one hundred lengths, it doesn't matter if you can master every stroke or if you prefer to stick to breast stroke. It's a wonderful sport and a brilliant way to keep fit and healthy, whatever your age!