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Summer of Swimming campaign - Olympic star Amy Smith tells how she used to be afraid of the water

PUBLISHED: 14:19 22 May 2017

Olympian Amy Smith working with pupils at Scarning Primary School. Picture: Ian Burt

Olympian Amy Smith working with pupils at Scarning Primary School. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Growing up Amy Smith was afraid of the water - a fear shared by growing numbers of children today.

Incredibly, Miss Smith went on to represent Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics as a swimmer and was at the pinnacle of British swimming for a decade.

Now retired from the sport, the 29-year-old has been using her story to inspire children in Norfolk to get in the water and overcome their fears.

On Thursday, she visited Scarning Primary School, near Dereham, to talk about her life.

She also put some 320 pupils, aged between four and 11, through their paces with circuit training.

Miss Smith said: “I was afraid of the water up until I was about seven.

“I gradually got used to it and confident enough to be in the water without feeling like I was going to just go under and drown.”

By the age of 10, Miss Smith was competing regularly. The rest is history.

While pupils at Scarning Primary School are able to swim every week at the pool in Dereham, Miss Smith said she has seen, in other areas, how children are not always getting the opportunity to swim regularly.

She said: “I think swimming is seen as a very important activity by many people, but the costs of running pools has unfortunately seen some close.

“Where necessary, it would be good to see schools working together to take children to places where they can use the same pool.

“Learning to swim, and swimming regularly is so important for exercise but also as life skills, especially when you live close to the sea.”

She added: “The children here have got so much time to learn and find their feet. I was older than them when I started swimming.

“I’m encouraging them to not be afraid to try new things - to enjoy challenges in life, to make sure they give 100pc to what they do and to not be put off by setbacks.

“They have really enjoyed themselves and it’s been great to be here.”

The EDP is running a Summer of Swimming campaign, encouraging people across the region to take up swimming amid concerns that participation is falling.

If you have a story that would fit with our Summer of Swimming campaign, Email adam.lazzari@archant.co.uk

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