It feels good to be fit and find an enthusiastic social circle of swimmers
I’ve been swimming since I was about seven. My dad took us to a teacher at a local pool where I learnt. I briefly joined a swimming club when I was at primary school and swam for my secondary school but mainly it was for enjoyment not competition. I’ve been in Out to Swim since 1997. I joined for a number of reasons really, I knew about the club for a while before I showed up. I’d been thinking of going but presumed it was mostly men then I saw a flyer which said there was a women’s session and I thought I could go to that one. It was the year I turned forty and I thought I’d do something different, it felt like time to make some changes.
For me, personally, it feels good to be fit and find a similarly enthusiastic social circle of swimmers. They encourage you when you don’t feel like coming out on a cold evening and getting in the pool. I’ve also come to enjoy competition. I was a bit daunted by it at the beginning – what it involved. I don’t do as many competitions as other people in the club, I dip in and out mainly because work is quite full on. I’ve been to the Gay Games twice: Sydney, which was a great adventure, and Cologne more recently and I’m going to Paris this year. I’ve also been to other gay swim meets here and there: Florida, which was great fun and Toronto for an IGLA (International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics) meet and then WAM (Women’s Aquatic Meet) in Manchester, some years ago. I’ve also been to regular Masters meets around London and I went to Sheffield once for the Nationals.
I like being in an LGBT club. Most of my work is in the straight world and it’s really nice to be able to join in with other LGBT people, to feel you belong, be amongst friends and can be more yourself, that’s a good part of it.
I’m not so sure if being older is such an issue for women. I sometimes look across at the blokes and think that it’s all about the body beautiful. That slightly worries me. I think it’s less true for the women – I hope so anyway. It’s for me to come to terms with the fact that my body is sagging and I’ve got loads of wrinkles. It doesn’t bother me that much, even if I sometimes feel like Grandma in the pool.
It’s great that we’ve got young people coming through. That’s what should be happening and we should have a steady stream of folk coming in to keep the club moving with the times. It’s important to try and keep people when they join up.
For over fifties – don’t hesitate to get involved. I know there’s lots of stuff going on in your head, like people won’t welcome you but that is what you are imagining rather than reality. You’ll find it’s fun and people are warm and friendly. Being fit is good for how you feel about yourself. It’s too easy to be sedentary at my stage of life. A lot of one’s life is often about work, work, work. People in their forties and fifties are climbing the greasy pole or are on top of the greasy pole and trying to maintain it, so having a bit of time in your week to zone out and do something physical is good – it can get de-prioritised very easily. It’s quite important to have that balance in life.
The Out To Swim Women only session is great from my point of view because in the other sessions the women are scattered quite thinly so it can feel a bit strange. On a Sunday evening for instance there might be three other women there and none of them are in my lane, so you have a quick chat in the shower, then you are off home. It’s never bothered me, but I do know other women who find that quite difficult so it’s a really nice facility to meet the other women, go out to the pub afterwards and have a chat.
To find our other Out & Active Champions, click on their names.
Viv from BLAGSS
Christopher from Out To Swim
Nigel from Goslings London Badminton Club
Sarah from London Otters Rowing Club
Nash from London Royals Hockey
Tammy from London Royals Hockey
Peter from London Otters Rowing Club
Chris and Tina from Waltzing with Hilda and Pink Jukebox
Joanie from Hackney Women’s Football Club and The Federation of Gay Games
Ann from Gay Gooners
Sarah from Out To Swim
To find out more about the club click
Out To Swim
Champion interviews by Christopher Preston
Design for Out & Active by Laura Salisbury
Out & Active is kindly
supported by London Sport