<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Total Immersion - the step-by-step method of learning how to swim

PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 January 2018

Swimming the Total Immersion stroke

Swimming the Total Immersion stroke

Archant

Many of us are frustrated by our inability to swim well. Sarah Hill did something about it and now helps others. She spoke to Roger Borrell.

Sarah Hill of Swimmingly Sarah Hill of Swimmingly

THERE’S a simple reason why so many of us swim so badly and Sarah Hill’s experience will strike a chord with anyone who still flounders and flaps whenever they get into the water.

Most have one thing in common – they learned at school and Sarah hits the nail on the head when she says: ‘We weren’t taught to swim – we were taught not to drown.’

Being in water was something to be feared. You had to keep your head above it or you’d die. ‘It put people off for life,’ she says. ‘For years I couldn’t swim for toffee. Over time I got better but it was always a struggle, always frustrating. I used to look at other people and wonder “How do they do that?”’

Sarah went to some lessons as an adult but describes it as a difficult and unpleasant experience. ‘I felt I was being asked to learn too many things all at once – legs, arms and breathing. That made it quite stressful. But swimming is a wonderful thing and I’m on a mission to spread the word.’

Total Immersion Total Immersion

Her salvation came in the form of a teaching method called Total Immersion, a technique that was developed in the United States and it has spread around the world, although hadn’t then reached as far as Lancashire. ‘The nearest coach was in the Loughborough area,’ says Sarah, who lives in Ramsbottom. ‘I spent three full days learning and it changed my life.

‘I learned to swim properly with a system that is all about learning to work with the water rather than fighting against it. Traditionally, we end up fighting the water – thrashing it with our arms and legs to survive.

‘This method was completely different, a step-by-step method of learning. There is also an element of mindfulness – although I don’t want this to sound too hippyish – which involves understanding what different parts of your body are doing, how it feels, the shapes you are making and how the senses are responding. It’s actually a very relaxing way to learn.

‘The other great thing is that you don’t need to be athletic and it doesn’t matter what age you are.’

Practising balance in the pool Practising balance in the pool

Equipped with her new confidence, Sarah started open water swimming. ‘There was a defining moment when I swam the length of Windermere and thought “If I can do that anyone can.”

‘It’s just a question of learning the right way and I felt Total Immersion deserved a wider audience, especially for women like me who had struggled with sport.’

One of the coaches suggested she became a qualified teacher. There were no others in Lancashire so she gave it a try. It soon became clear that hiring time in local pools wasn’t an option so she took the big step of having an indoor pool built in her garden.

Her business, Swimmingly, opened in May and it has gone from strength to strength as swimming has become a more popular way of keeping fit. She is taking on another teacher soon to work with children. On average, pupils require five or six lessons and then they are equipped to go off to their local pools and develop their skills. Sarah also video and a Japanese technique called Kaizen, developed in industry to create a philosophy of continual improvement.

There are three groups she teaches – people who want to learn swimming techniques for triathlons, those who want to be better swimmers for recreation and general fitness and those who are just terrified of the water.

‘I love working with them all but people who are phobic about the water are the most rewarding. To be able to help someone who has not been able to put their face in the water for 40 years is quite something.

‘I had one lady who had been trying to learn to swim for 25 years but she was terrified. Over that time she’d had ten teachers and spent thousands but she still couldn’t get in the water on holiday with her children. She came to me and for the first half hour she stood on the edge crying and shaking. In the next half hour she had her face in the water.’

Sarah gave up her career as a freelance project manager to teach swimming full time. ‘If someone had told me two years ago I would be doing this I’d have thought them mad,’ she laughs. ‘But this has been a positive, life-changing experience for me and, I hope, for the people I teach.’

You can find out more about Sarah’s work at www.swimmingly.co.uk

More from Out & About

When photographer Emma Campbell fell in love with Lakeland’s fell ponies she decided to raise their profile with a special project.

Read more
Equestrian photography
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Our walking guide John Lenehan takes us on a towpath where you can see one of Lancashire’s great engineering feats.

Read more
Canals Chorley
Monday, April 9, 2018

A selection of walks in and around Bowland for outdoor types who like to end their hike on a high note – with some great food and drink.

Read more
Monday, April 9, 2018

From specialist soap to awarding winning ale, Staveley is proving to be a magnet for small businesses and visitors

Read more
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The joy of spotting owls is described by The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright who tells us where to find them and how to identify these elusive creatures.

Read more
Monday, April 2, 2018

It stretches the length of the Liverpool suburb, and over the years has hosted many shops and businesses. Rebekka O’Grady chats to those who currently call it home

Read more
Liverpool
Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring has sprung, so it's time to make the most of the beautiful Lakeland scenery. Here's our top ideas for days out this spring, whether you want to pull on your walking boots or take a day out with the children

Read more
Spring
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A couple in Euxton have managed to create a beautiful garden packed with plants and a sense of humour

Read more
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The pretty village of Barley sits in the shadow of Pendle Hill but John Lenehan chooses a gentler route.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks Pendle Hill
Monday, March 12, 2018

Business mixes easily with pleasure in the busy market town of Clitheroe, as Mairead Mahon and Kirsty Thompson discovered.

Read more
Clitheroe
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Lake Windermere is over 10 miles long and is surrounded by a several beautiful fells, we pick some of our favourite walks that are ideal for anyone visiting the area.

Read more
Windermere Lake District Walks
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

If you ever wondered what happens to the cash supermarkets charge for carriers, then pop along to Lytham Hall. Linda Viney reports

Read more
Lytham
Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Martin Pilkington reports on a Lancashire town that has confounded the pessimists.

Read more
Bury
Monday, March 5, 2018

It’s another fine town in old Lancashire but its connection with the world’s most famous comedy duo make it special. Mike Glover reports.

Read more
Ulverston
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search