In this unique dock-to-dock experience, professional and amateur swimmers will dive into the open water to compete against each other, the clock as well as raise funds for good causes.

It is a special motivation that brings thousands of people to the water’s edge each year; to stand in the city centre wearing a wetsuit delighted at the thought of making a splash.

Often it’s all part of an emotional journey that gets people to take part, completing the challenge for someone special, or on this case, to overcome an anxiety and face fears head on.

Aquaphobia is a reality for many people living in the UK.

Ian Taylor, 46, is a swimming teacher based in Conwy, Wales. Four years ago, he started teaching children while he was studying a degree in sport, health and physical education. It was only until he took over the adult lessons though that he encountered this problem.

His two pupils Amanda Hillary, 30, and Kevin Boyle, 42, are currently working hard to overcome their fear of water in a journey that will culminate at this year’s Great Manchester Swim.

Ian said: “The story is about how immensely proud I am of them. I basically try to just keep them believing in themselves and to set goals. In the beginning it was to be able to swim a length and then as they got better we increased the distance challenges but also we talked loads about feeling the water, relaxing and becoming a swimmer in the mind.”

Thanks to Ian’s support and their huge commitment, Amanda and Kevin are aiming to shine in their orange swimming caps in July. Ian said: “We decided on the Great Manchester Swim because I have done it many times and love it. Amanda has family in Manchester too, so they will come and watch.

“I have told them that they could do the mile in sub-45 minutes, but I think they will be delighted to do it in any time. For me personally, I would like it if they just feel like swimmers and continue to enjoy it without the fear.”

As Amanda and Kevin continue to progress in the pool, they are hoping to get some time in the open water in their local lakes once the weather warms up.

“At the moment they come for an hour lesson a week on a Tuesday night. We are starting to build up their endurance and they are all going swimming in between lessons.

“They’ve bought wetsuits and when our local lake becomes warm enough I’m going to introduce them to the open water. From then on we will try to swim their at least once a week until the event.”

One mile in the open water is the equivalent of 64 lengths in a full-size pool. Hopefully, with Ian’s help Amanda and Kevin can discover just how fun open water swimming is.


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