Celebrity swimming lessons? | Metro
* THIS INTERVIEW WITH WILL FIRST APPEARED IN ‘METRO’ *
‘These types of holidays are on the increase,’ says William Higham, founder of trends consultancy Next Big Thing. ‘Nature fitness holidays – running, cycling, triathlons – are also on the rise and, as we look at health as a holistic issue, of managing our overall health rather than just losing weight, holidays are being seen as the ideal time to maintain it. Some hotels are including fitness walls and exercise balls in guests’ rooms.’ …
I’ve gulped more seawater in this swimming session than I did piña coladas at last night’s dinner. ‘Watch your rotation Vicki-Marie,’ shouts Rebecca Adlington from the jetty above. ‘Every time you breathe, you lift your head and shoulder too far out the water. It’s giving you an imbalance in your stroke.’ I gulp another mouthful and vow to reward myself with a snooze on the beach after lunch. After all, it’s been a hard training session this morning.
When it comes to swimming lessons, it can’t get better than having a double-Olympic gold medallist as your teacher and the shimmering waters of the Caribbean Sea as your pool. Yes, it’s a long way to come (more than 4,000 miles, in fact) but if, like me, you want to keep up your fitness on holiday, Virgin Holidays’ new swim workshop could be the sun, sea and sand twist you’re after this summer.
The Swim Palm Island Workshop is free to guests staying at the Palm Island resort in the Grenadines. It’s being run by former world record holder Adlington and her fiancé, Harry Needs, who’s hoping to compete in the 100m butterfly at Rio 2016. ‘I love the fact I can pass on my knowledge to help someone improve their skills,’ says Adlington. ‘Swimming is a life skill. A lot of people forget that. No one should die from drowning in this day and age.’
One in five British adults are unable to swim and it’s estimated this country sees someone drown every 17 hours, according to the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA). ‘By “unable to swim”, we mean someone who can’t swim the length of a typical swimming pool unaided,’ says the association’s Lara Lill. ‘Swimming is fantastic for your health. Not only does it exercise the whole body but it strengthens your heart and lungs, and improves strength, flexibility and balance. Plus it’s the only sport that can save your life.’
Since retiring from the sport last year at the age of 23, Adlington is making it her mission to get the nation in the pool. She has launched a scheme for children this month called Swim Stars (www.beckyadlingtonsswimstars.com), which uses teachers who have gone ‘over and above’ the usual ASA qualifications and will run at venues across Britain. All of which is handy for the next generation of swimmers but how many will follow Adlington to the Caribbean for lessons?
‘These types of holidays are on the increase,’ says William Higham, founder of trends consultancy Next Big Thing. ‘Nature fitness holidays – running, cycling, triathlons – are also on the rise and, as we look at health as a holistic issue, of managing our overall health rather than just losing weight, holidays are being seen as the ideal time to maintain it. Some hotels are including fitness walls and exercise balls in guests’ rooms.’
I vaguely remember getting several swimming badges at school but I haven’t done proper lengths since. At the private, 135-acre Palm Island, I’m impressed to see markers for seven Olympic-sized lanes bobbing about in the sea. The lessons run for two to three hours in the morning, for four days out of the week, and during the sessions there’s unlimited access to Adlington for technical advice. That she is down to earth and friendly is a bonus.
As a keen runner, I didn’t think the stamina needed for the more dyn-amic front crawl would be an issue. But after an assessment where we are filmed and timed, I realise just how different land and water fitness are. ‘You can definitely up the ante when needed,’ praises Adlington. ‘And you have a good strong kick but you need to watch your rotation.’
She gives me some drills to practise in the sea and the next couple of days we live the life of a swimmer in the morning – complete with Pilates, circuits and beach fitness – and the more relaxing life of a holiday-maker in the afternoon.
The four days culminate in an optional one-mile, open-water swim to neighbouring Union Island. It’s at this point Adlington climbs into a boat to supervise us because she is ‘terrified of the sea’. An unusual fear for one of the world’s greatest swimmers, you may think, but it appears the depth and power of the ocean is enough to give even the most accomplished water babies the jitters.
Needs leads us in the challenge as we test our new skills. I only manage a few metres front crawl before switching to breaststroke but, despite fighting huge waves, we inch our way across the water. Inevitably, the group splits as fatigue begins to set in. Needs can no longer keep the group together, so Adlington overcomes her fear and braves the water to bring up the rear.
We reach Union Island after one hour 15 minutes with legs like jelly. Congratulations all round. We’ve all overcome a personal challenge today – especially the Olympic swimmer terrified of the sea.
VIEW ORIGINAL ARTICLE: http://metro.co.uk/2014/01/21/just-an-ordinary-swimming-lesson-with-rebecca-adlington-in-the-caribbean-4269756/#ixzz45bp0ey00