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Amanda Kemp, 41


I was training towards my first Ironman (which was also my first triathlon!) when I contacted Ali for swimming lessons. I have done many endurance running and cycling events but swimming was going to be the biggest challenge before putting them altogether.


I have an intense dislike to water and have never enjoyed any form of swimming or water sport if it involved getting my face wet, even just splashed. I had no fear about being out of my depth or in a lake just having my head under the water. Needless to say not only had I taken on a huge challenge but so had Ali to get me there. On the first lesson Ali asked me to swim 2 lengths freestyle to which my response was ‘’what’s freestyle and whatever it is I can’t’’. Ali was fantastic and took me through various drills and when he challenged me to swim 750m (1000m if I could) between lessons I did 1500m and had a silly grin on my face the rest of the day.


The Ironman was the hardest thing I have ever done but I finished the swim in 1hr 40 despite feeling very unwell for the last 1km. It was twice as far as I had ever swum in a lake before and 1km further than I had ever swum! But in my mind I knew that I would finish it and had Ali’s words in my head the whole way around.


Annie was brilliant with the 2 lake sessions I did with her and she gave me the confidence to go to different lakes by myself.


I swam at The Park Club on Milton Park and at Abingdon School. Both facilities are great for learning. The video analysis was invaluable as I was able to watch it and visualise improvements whilst I was away travelling and couldn’t swim. I came back from the 2 week trip and my swimming had already improved.


All my lessons were 1:1 with Ali which I needed as I didn’t feel confident enough to go to a squad evening. But the beginner’s lake swim with a group with Annie was good to give me the confidence that everyone else has their own feelings to overcome too.


I would not have completed the Ironman without Ali. I haven’t learnt to love water but I did get a buzz from the open water swimming so my wetsuit will be kept for next year and I will go swimming again.

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