Over-55s rush to experience the ‘freedom and exhilaration’ of swimming in open water at Sidmouth

Swimming in open water is in vogue for those aged 55 and over in East Devon – a new scheme in Sidmouth is already oversubscribed.

Wild East Devon and LED Community Leisure invited people to experience the ‘freedom and exhilaration of swimming in open water’ and attracted an avalanche of interest.

The 10 weekly swimming sessions aim to give people the confidence to swim in open water and in the sea. Starting at Sidmouth swimming pool, they progress to the sea.

Organisers say: “Swimmers enjoy a social swim, improve their skills and water confidence with new techniques. There’s lots of help and support from other sea swimmers and lifeguard owner of Jurassic Paddle Sports, Guy Russell.”

Cllr Geoff Jung, environment portfolio holder at East Devon District Council said: “The ‘Swim to the Sea’ project is proving hugely popular. The course is already full because people see it as a brilliant opportunity to get more active and embrace the natural environment.

“Sea swimming has many benefits, improving people’s health and mental wellbeing, as well as being fun and invigorating! These sessions show that, no matter what your age, swimming in the sea is achievable and enjoyable.”

Swimmers who managed to get a place, say they are excited abut their new adventure.

One, Gill, said: “I used to regularly swim in the sea but I’m nervous about swimming without a companion so this will help my confidence and be aware of tides.”

Another called June said: “I really want to get back to swimming. I haven’t been in the sea for years. Swimming alone is a worry for me, so I want to swim with others and feel safe.”

And Denise said: “My husband doesn’t swim and I don’t want to swim on my own. I really want to swim outside and out of season when it’s not so busy, to improve my fitness.”

The scheme is funded by Sport England through the ‘Connecting Actively to Nature’ project and is being delivered by Wild East Devon, LED Community Leisure, Jurassic Paddle Sports and Active Devon.

It encourages people aged 55 and over to get outside and be more active. To take part, people must be able to swim for a minimum of 20 metres.

It is hoped that more sessions will take place next spring. To register your interest, email outreach@ledleisure.co.uk

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