Gosport instructor is encouraging women to learn to swim

Swimming instructor Karen Townsend, who is encouraging women to learn to swim
Swimming instructor Karen Townsend, who is encouraging women to learn to swim
Very Rev David Brindley, centre, at the D-Day Story on Clarence Esplanade, Southsea, which he dedicated, with Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson, left, and Captain W Oliphant RN Captain of HM Naval Base Portsmouth   Picture by:  Malcolm Wells (180606-2380)

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We have been inspired to support the hugely successful This Girl Can Swim campaign.

Gosport Leisure Centre was approached by Sports England to help pilot the scheme.

We’re very proud of our credentials. Once again we’re finalists for the UK Active Leisure Centre of The Year Award, plus we’ve been credited as excellent by Quest. For three years now our trainers have led the Race For Life warm ups.

I’m a swimming instructor, and I was asked to co-ordinate the campaign for this region.

This Girl Can Swim is a celebration of active women and aims to encourage women to overcome negative self-image and the fear of judgement that prevents many women and girls from achieving an active lifestyle.

We are running dedicated ladies-only sessions, and the response has been absolutely amazing.

Ladies of all abilities are signing-up for the initiative, and local community groups are now benefitting from the programme. Some want to get back in the water after years of making excuses, others want to build their confidence in a reassuring environment.

I act as an adviser and a motivator. I encourage and instruct participants and I’m available during the sessions to ensure that the ladies benefit as much as possible from their swims.

The positivity from these wonderful ladies is infectious. I love it!

Some ladies buddy up before going into the changing rooms. Equipped with bathrobes, water bottles and smiles, they encourage the more nervous swimmers to get into the water.

Some wear the Swimtag fitness trackers at no extra cost, or use the Places Locker app to track their progress. Others simply chill out and enjoy the water while listening to the relaxing background music.

There is a real sense of support towards one another, and once a month we go for coffee or lunch as a treat after our sessions.

Every lady has a different motivation for attending. Some use it as part of a weight-loss programme, to get more active, to stay fit. Others are exercising post-surgery, or to use the support of the water for bad backs, hip, legs, shoulders – almost any part of the body.

We all know how beneficial swimming is as an activity. In the main, ladies enjoy the inclusive, reassuring attitude of one another.

Swimming can be an isolated pastime, but these sessions are allowing ladies to enjoy the water on their terms. It’s time to dig out those old swimming costumes and get wet!

The sessions run from 9.30am until midday on Wednesdays during school term time. No booking is necessary, just turn up and enjoy some me time.

Call Karen on (023) 9253 4950 or e-mail KarenTownsend@pfpleisure.org.