Making the most of the Olympic legacy, in and out of the water

Rakhi Shingadia Community Sports Manager at Better Leisure discusses the best ways to harness the 2016 Olympic legacy.

Watching elite athletes in action is always inspirational and this summer’s 2016 Rio Olympics was no exception.

With Team GB fielding a 26-strong swimming team led by 50m and 100m breaststroke World Champion Adam Peaty, alongside 11 British divers including the nation’s favourite, Tom Daley, there was plenty to cheer for poolside this summer.

But there is a serious side to pool-based activities too. Learning to swim is a life skill, and with the abundance of beaches, lakes, rivers and reservoirs throughout the UK, it can also be a life saver. At Better leisure centres across the region we offer a range of group and individual swimming classes for everyone, from three-month-old babies to adults. During late summer and early autumn our lidos – including Abbey Meadows in Abingdon and Woodstock Outdoor Pool – are great places to enjoy a swim in the fresh air, while the weather remains mild and the evenings are light.

Our swim school programmes are designed to be as flexible as possible, with a range of lesson times, memberships, and easy payment methods. Our experienced, qualified swimming teachers undergo regular training and follow the Amateur Swimming Association National Teaching Plan for swimming, providing a structured, nationally recognised pathway to swimming proficiency. Swimmers who advance through our lesson stages have the opportunity to move into competitive swimming through a variety of swimming clubs and many have gone on to national and even international success.

Swimming is great at any age and people swim with us for a variety of reasons. Parent and baby lessons develop a unique bond while building trust and helping to develop key motor skills and strength. Water confidence is a key skill that will not only keep your children safe, but also help them feel comfortable whether they are at the beach on holiday, or taking part in water related sports and activities. Health professionals claim that those who receive an early introduction to water are more alert with better sleeping and eating habits due to the regular exercise and social interaction. It’s also never too late to learn. We have beginners’ lessons for all ages as well as ‘one to one’ lessons for those who would like personalised coaching to help achieve their goals in the water.

Not a keen swimmer? As well as pools, we have facilities for a host of Olympic sports like tennis, squash and badminton, plus opportunities for athletics, basketball and many other activities. We work closely with National Governing Bodies such as the Lawn Tennis Association, Badminton England and British Gymnastics to deliver a wide range of structured programmes for all ages and abilities.

We are also proud to support athletes, from grassroots level all the way through to professionals. Our GLL Sport Foundation is designed to assist young talented sportsmen and women achieve their full potential by reducing the financial burden of associated training costs and widening their access to sporting excellence. We’re delighted that this summer seven of our Foundation-supported rowers from the Thames Valley, crossed the Atlantic and represented their country at the Rio Games.