We met with TV Presenter, Angellica Bell, who has decided to learn to swim as an adult. After having children, she’s decided to take the plunge so that along with her husband Michael Underwood, they can swim as a family. Read about why she’s chosen to learn now, how her journey’s going, and her tips for anyone in the same position.
Did you ever swim as a child?
I remember going to the swimming baths a couple of times when I was younger, but we would always stay near the shallow end. I also have a vague recollection of having a swimming lesson with my school. But, because of how difficult my hair is to manage (and the time I would need to blow-dry it after a lesson!) I never really found it fun. So I managed to get out of swimming lessons from there on!
Then when we were on holiday as family, I nearly drowned with my sister. We were in the sea – the wind changed and just took us out. My sister was on a lilo, and she was very young, so I just remember thinking she needed to stay on the lilo as someone might come and get her. I was just bobbing under water. Thankfully, some German men swam out and rescued us. After that, I thought, ‘water and me just don’t mix’ – so I decided to stay away from it.
What changed your mind and made you want to learn to swim now?
It’s a hard thing for all mums with families; you’re trying to juggle so much. But I have realised it’s important to make time for yourself. If you work on improving yourself mentally and physically it helps all round in other aspects of your life.
And, having my own children was when I thought this is something that is important. I want my children to do amazing things, and have brilliant experiences. And I don’t want to me one of those mums who is all talk and no action! Plus, I wanted to take them swimming and be able to go together as a family.
How has your learning experience been so far?
When I first started going I found it time-consuming and challenging – packing your bag, thinking of everything you need and so on. Then there’s the stress of finishing the swim and having to wash my hair and take time over that. It was about not looking at it like that anymore and changing the way I thought about it. So, I got a swimming bag that has everything I need in it, and it went from there. It was a slow start, as it was something that I could easily take out of the diary. But, once I got in the pool and started to practice more and began to see results, it got easier. I’m definitely getting there now and I’m enjoying it more! If I am coming to the gym, I try to incorporate half an hour of swimming time too.
How have you been progressing?
I am comfortable going in the pool on my own now. Sometimes I might not know exactly what I’m planning to do, but as long as I’m moving in the water, I feel like it’s progress.
What have you found difficult?
My problem has been with breathing. The way you breath throughout the day, is completely different to how you need to breathe in the water. And, not only are you learning different strokes, and techniques, but you’re learning different ways to breathe as well. That’s been quite difficult to get my head around.
How has having a swimming coach helped you so far?
My coach Nikki is great – she won’t let me get away with doing things incorrectly and will always make me repeat it. In the lessons we use floats, so I’ll swim with one arm to get the technique right and then we’ll move to the other side. Sometimes she’ll see I’m sinking in the water, as I’m not using my core correctly, so she’ll use a noodle underneath my waist. This makes moving in the water so much easier. Nikki makes me work at all my strokes and ultimately makes our lessons great fun!
Do you have any swimming goals you’d like to achieve?
My goal is to do two lengths without stopping in a couple of month’s time. Then by the end of the year, I would like to be able to come in and swim 20 lengths.
As a busy Mum, what other exercise do you do to keep fit?
I tend to go to the gym because I can just go in and come out. I like to go early as I see exercise as a something that shouldn’t interfere with your life – you can just get it done and then get on with the rest of your day.
I do like feeling fit – and it means I can have a treat every now and then. I love baking, and eating out, so in order to do that I know I have to keep fit.
What’s your top tip for anyone thinking about learning to swim?
I would say: don’t be afraid, as there are other people out there in the same position as you. Try and get into a routine as you’ll see results quicker, and take one step at a time. You aren’t going to do a length straight away, so just break it down and set small goals.
And, get a good swimming hat – it saves loads of time!