Christine’s in the swim after 60 years

Christine Launders with instructor Debbie Colley
Christine Launders with instructor Debbie Colley

A SHEFFIELD great-grandmother who dreamed for more than 60 years of being able to swim has picked it up within 20 minutes of her first lesson.

Although she has attended aqua aerobics classes, Christine Launders, aged 72, was “terrified” of going under the water.

It was a fear that persisted until she took finally swimming lessons at Concord sports centre at Shiregreen where she met instructor Debbie Colley.

“Debbie was fantastic,” said Christine, a retired residential social worker. “She gets in the water with you and makes you feel really confident straight away.

“Within 20 minutes of my first lesson with her I was swimming. It’s made me so confident and I feel like a revitalised person after a session, in my body and my mind.”

Christine, from Wincobank, had always loved water but felt nervous during aqua aerobics classes. “I began to feel terrified of going under the water. I would be so tense I wouldn’t do the exercises properly.

“I would go home and pray that I would one day be able to swim.”

After devoting her time to her large family, Christine finally took the plunge.

“When I tell people I’m 72 and I’ve just learnt to swim you’d be surprised by how many people say they should really learn or take lessons again. They’ve been sparked by my enthusiasm and I hope others are, too, because it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

“People in my lessons are of all ages and are really sociable. We can talk about how we’re getting on and our good and bad days.”

Debbie said Christine had overcome barriers of low confidence and anxiety. “Her confidence has soared since she started swimming and I hope others follow in her footsteps because it’s a great way to make new friends as well as learn new skills and improve fitness.

“Everyone at the centre thinks she is amazing and an excellent role model. We are very proud of her.”

Christine has recently suffered from a heart problem, causing breathing difficulties, but promises to head straight for the pool once doctors have treated her condition.

Sheffield International Venues has launched a ‘Fit at 60’ campaign to encourage older people to use the gyms and swimming pools at Concord, Ponds Forge, Hillsborough Leisure Centre and Don Valley Stadium.