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Sittingbourne mum beats fear of water to join national campaign to get more people swimming

A mum has thrown her support behind a national campaign to encourage more people to go swimming after recent figures revealed as many as one in three adults in England do not know how.

Carey Philpott, from Sittingbourne, used to swim as a child but did not continue while at secondary school because her eyesight worsened and she had grown fearful of the water.

Carey Philpott on holiday after she learnt to swim
Carey Philpott on holiday after she learnt to swim

But when Carey, a keen runner, saw a sign to take part in a duathlon – a combination of running and swimming – earlier this year, she knew it was the right time to give it another go and face her fear.

The mother-of-one, who has had contact lens implants, started swimming again in August.

She is now urging others to give it a go and has joined the #LoveSwimming campaign by Swim England, which celebrates adults who have learnt to swim later in life.

The 44-year-old, who is a business development manager for domestic abuse charity SATEDA, which is based in Sittingbourne, said: “I’m really happy to share my story in the hope that it might inspire others to give it a go.

“I’ve never been a very strong swimmer, as my daughter would say I do the ‘mum’s stroke’, but I got to this point when I just really wanted to give it my best shot. The duathlon came about and I knew I wanted to do it and do it properly. The worst thing was, I knew the skill was there, I knew my body could do it, it was all in my head.”

'Swimming is a valuable life skill and it is so important that we continue to highlight its benefits in a bid to reduce the number of individuals unable to swim,' - Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive

Carey now goes for a swim every week at The Swallows Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne.

She added: “I’m so happy I decided to get back into it.

“One of my teachers showed me that it was my fear that was stopping me, nothing else. He helped me overcome this and started with the basics of just getting my head under water.

“It’s given me a better understanding of how I am capable of pushing myself through a mental barrier, which is brilliant.”

Last month, Carey completed her first 200m, which she said was “a mini victory” that she was so proud of. She added: “I go twice a week and I honestly believe anyone can do it.

“You just have to acknowledge it’s going to be scary and take it one swim at a time. I love swimming now and I look forward to getting into the pool.”

The latest figures from Swim England show 14.2 million people cannot swim one length of a 25m pool.

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “Swimming is a valuable life skill and it is so important that we continue to highlight its benefits in a bid to reduce the number of individuals unable to swim.”

The Swallows hosts sessions for adults who are beginners. They are held on Mondays at 7pm and 7.45pm and on Wednesday at 6.30pm and 7.15pm.

A Swallows spokesman said: “The lessons can be for total beginners wanting to learn to swim or adults who have had a bad experience and want to gain their confidence again.

“They do not need any previous experience and can learn what they want, they will be asked if they want to learn to swim face in or just to get from a-b. Lessons can be tailored to the individual needs.”

There are also sessions for intermediate and advanced swimmers. For more, click here.

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