Haydn (pictured below) and Michelle from Buckingham House discuss swimming with Vanessa Vetter
Michelle and Haydn are members at Flourish Australia’s Buckingham House, and they regularly go to the local pool for a swim. While they go on their own quite often, they also tag along with the Buck House crew and go as a big group. We asked Haydn and Michelle to tell us about all the ways that swimming is good for their wellbeing, and why they like it enough to go so often.
‘It’s good exercise. Good for the heart and lungs,’ Michelle said. ‘Plus you meet new people.’
But you could say that about a lot of sports, so what’s particularly special about swimming?
‘I don’t get too hot when I swim, so I can do it for a fair while. And it’s also fun!’ Haydn added.
So what do they do? Michelle swims laps using several different styles, while Haydn does kicking exercises, breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle and butterfly.
‘I like learning different strokes,’ Michelle says, ‘and improving my technique. My favourite sort is freestyle. At first, I set a goal of 800 meters each morning, and now I am able to do 3 times that distance. It’s tiring, but worthwhile. I feel refreshed after swimming.’
‘Diving and freestyle are my favourite things to do in the pool,’ said Haydn. ‘Swimming provides a good structure to my week. Having something physical to do helps me out mentally, too.’
Is learning to swim hard?
‘As long as you practice, it becomes easier!’ Michelle explained.
‘I have been swimming since primary school so it was fairly easy for me, though there is a degree of difficulty for beginners,’ Haydn added.
Swimming is also an essential skill to have if you go boating or fishing.
‘I can get a little seasick, but that doesn’t stop me going out on the water.’ Haydn explained. ‘One time when I went fishing I caught an octopus! I didn’t touch it, but Dad felt the suckers and its skin. It was quiet a surprise catch! We returned it to the water. I also caught some fish that day, too.’
You can probably think of a number of other activities that would be easier and safer to do if you became confident in the water. By simply visiting the pool you could open up a whole PANORAMA of new activities and new people to meet.
Michelle and Haydn both wear casual clothes when they travel to the pool, but there are certain strict rules about what you can wear in the water. Namely, you need to put on gear that is specifically made for swimming. Tony Abbott may be Mr Budgie Smugglers, but for those of us who like something a bit more substantial, board shorts are a valid choice for both guys and girls. Girls also have the option of wearing bikinis or one-piece swimsuits.
Michelle purchased her goggles, ear plugs and swimmers from Target, but that’s not your only option.
‘You can also buy your gear from Ripcurl or other surf shops,’ Haydn noted. ‘I paid $50 for my boardies, and $10-$15 for goggles. You also need to bring a towel, change of clothes, and a plastic bag for your wet gear.’
‘You can expect decent swimwear to cost you anywhere between $30 and $100,’ Michelle said.
What other sort of etiquette or rules do you have to follow at the pool?
‘When you’re in a group you should listen to the instructor, respect each other, stay in the correct lane if your group has booked a lane, and always keep to the left. Oh, and leave the pool to go to the toilet!’ Haydn quipped.
Another essential thing you need is sunscreen. These days, sunscreen is easy and cheap to buy. Also, Flourish Australia services that conduct outdoor activities tend to have a bottle of it in their store cupboard, so be sure to ask for some before going outside.
There are other options if you want to have a splash somewhere. Occasionally, Haydn and Michelle have gone to the beach, and Haydn once went to Wet n Wild.
‘I’d go again. The Tornado was a good ride.’
Feeling self-conscious? Don’t!
But isn’t going swimming a little bit embarrassing for some people?
‘Of course not!’ says Michelle.
‘Maybe a little, if you aren’t in the best shape,’ says Haydn.
But what better way to GET in good shape than a whole-body workout like swimming? Isn’t that solving the core issue?
Neither Michelle nor Haydn have encountered bullies at the pool, so it’s not like other patrons have any interest in giving strangers a hard time.
And don’t let the arrival of Winter put you off! There are plenty of indoor pools around that keep the air at a balmy temperature to ward off goosebumps. However, Michelle is one of those lucky people who don’t feel the cold.
‘When you are outdoors, the pool can be cold, but I just tolerate it! If it gets REALLY cold I might compromise a bit and swim indoors.’
Give it a go!
What about people who are thinking about going swimming but are still a little unsure?
‘Just give it a go!’ Michelle advised. ‘It’s good to learn something new, to meet new people, to make new friends.’
Haydn certainly recommends it.
‘If my friends wanted to go, I would invite them to come with me, or I’d find someone else to go with them.’
Now for the golden question: does swimming make them feel better? Is it helping with their wellbeing and recovery?
‘Yes, yes, yes!’ says Michelle. ‘My confidence is growing. I’m doing better than I expected.’
In case you’re interested, Buck House has been running swimming days for its members at Prince Alfred Park’s outdoor heated pool for some time now. Be sure to let them know if you’d like to come along!
Michelle and Haydn spoke to Vanessa Vetter. Thanks to Vicky and David from Belgravia Leisure.
Accessible Aquatics and more…
The City of Sydney Aquatic and Fitness Centres (the Prince Alfred Park Centre is pictured to the left) are committed to improving pool accessibility to the wider community, and currently offer several inclusion programs to encourage those who may not usually access to the facilities to come and participate. These programs provide those who may be experiencing some form of disability or disadvantage, or who may be of a diverse demographic, with the opportunity to participate in sports and recreation, promoting an active, accessible, and inclusive community whilst ensuring that they feel connected, safe and supported.
If you would like to learn more about the inclusion programs that are currently being offered, Dave Owen (the Community Development Coordinator) can be contacted on 9326 0444, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Flourish Australia Buckingham House, 43-45 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010. Call them on 1300 779 270