I was three years old. We were on holiday in Spain and I remember my mum was blowing up my arm bands. I saw my sisters having fun in the pool, so I just ran towards the water and jumped straight in – without my arm bands! And at that moment my parents must have thought, ‘we have to get her lessons’, so that’s how it all started. I wouldn’t say I was ever amazing at swimming, though. I was just always confident and never feared the water. I just loved it.
My family and I went on holiday to Florida about five or six times when I was growing up. I loved Disney, so I absolutely adored going to Florida. Greece is another one of my favourite places to go. I remember we went to Kos one year when I was 10-years-old, and it was my heaven on earth. Our hotel was sat right next to a 50 metre pool, so we splashed around in there from morning ‘til night. My mum and dad had to practically drag us out! As we have a big family, we’d often go away with our aunties and uncles, too, so there was always a big group of us, which was really fun.
Summer can’t swim yet, but I’m taking her to the pool once a week for lessons. She’s very good at kicking her legs, but can’t swim on her own, so I hold her up and make sure she wears her arm bands. She’s completely like me, though, she has no fear of the water, which is definitely a good thing. She loves to jump straight in – she just goes for it. It is a bit daunting at times, but I’m really looking forward to her getting a bit older when she can properly learn how to swim.
I’m definitely an organised person. I will encourage Summer to have a good work ethic, but balance is very important, too. I took her to Florida in January, followed by Spain in May, and I absolutely loved spending quality time with her. I’m lucky I have a flexible job, too, as she only goes to nursery twice a week, so I get to spend a lot of time with her which is really nice. I definitely want to maximise the amount of time I spend with her before she starts going to school.
I took her to Antigua when she was just six-months-old. She’s also been to Spain three times, and this year I’ve taken her to both Florida and Spain for a week with my mum and dad. Plus her dad has also taken her on holiday, too, so she’s a little jet setter! Summer loves the beach – she’s obsessed with the sand. When we went to Spain, we couldn’t get her off the beach as she just wanted to fill up her bucket with the stuff and eat ice-cream all day – she was in her element.
Spending that quality time together is fantastic. When you’re at home, there’s always something that needs to be done, whether it’s the washing, ironing, or cleaning – so you don’t ever fully relax. What I love most about being on holiday is that you don’t have to worry about any of that sort of stuff. It was really nice going away with my mum and dad, as I got spend a good amount of quality time with them and could just switch off. Also I’m such a foodie, so I love going out to try all of the different restaurants.
If I had to pick one, it would probably be Australia. Just because I feel like Australia is very similar to the UK in terms of the people as a whole – they just have better weather! The people down under are really into their sport, chilling out, and they have a great sense of humour, too. The food is also amazing, and I love the fact that everybody in Australia goes out for breakfast, as it’s my favourite meal of the day. They have amazing beaches, too. I guess the only downside is the long flight over there, but I just think Australia is an amazing place, and it’s one of the few places I’ve travelled to and thought to myself that I could definitely live there.
On holiday there’s a great opportunity. When you step into a pool as a child, it can be a very scary thing, whereas on holiday the pools are a little bit smaller, there are more kids about and the area is more open. It’s not like they’re inside an enclosed building where it’s a bit contained and daunting. Also I think at home you have your 30-minute lesson, but on holiday, they can go into the pool as many times as they want to, which really helps their confidence. It’s crazy that kids can go on holiday for two weeks and come back a completely different swimmer in terms of confidence and skills. Most kids want to be in the pool as it’s a big part of the holiday, so you really see a big change in kids on holiday when it comes to swimming.
I think it’s nice for the kids to have different people around. When you’re at home it’s the same parent who will take you to your swimming lessons, whereas on holiday, different family members can all get involved and it’s really fun because you can build memories. For example, my dad really loves jumping into the water, whereas I prefer actually swimming and want to kick my legs, so you can learn lots about different people’s interests which is great.
My top tips are to definitely enjoy the club you’re swimming at. Going down to different clubs and speaking with coaches to try and build those relationships is really important to make sure you click. Finding a club that’s right for you makes all the difference, too, as swimming can take a very big toll on a family, as you’ll be getting up early in the mornings and after school to fit in sessions. You need to make sure the environment is right for you and that you absolutely love it – as it’s such a big commitment to undergo if you don’t.
I was really excited to meet the kids as I hadn’t met any of them before. Plus, there was a mixture of abilities, too, which I really liked. I loved helping each and every one of them to develop their current skills, especially as there were a few shy ones at the start who ended up coming out of their shell by the end of the session. I also loved seeing how much the kids improved in terms of confidence, and when you can see that they’ve really taken on board advice that you’ve given them. It was lovely to see them having a great time, too, so it was a really fun session.
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