Jayne, a regular at Southglade Leisure Centre, recently completed a thirty-length swim in aid of the Stroke Association – a feat that few healthy individuals could complete. Yet, Jayne recently suffered a life-changing stroke, leaving her with limited mobility and a long road to recovery. Enter the Swim for Health sessions, where Jenna (one of our swimming instructors) worked closely with Jayne to help in her rehabilitation – working to regain her strength as well as independence.
I arrived at Southglade on November 11th 2019 to interview Jayne. The atmosphere in the Leisure Centre was beautiful – friends and family had gathered together in support. They cheered and clapped as Jayne tackled length after length, and by the final lap, there were definitely a few watery eyes.
After the swim there were posters and banners carefully hung on the walls, and there were biscuits and coffee cups placed upon tables. People were smiling and laughing – excitedly chattering about how well Jayne had done. You could almost smell the sheer adoration and pride in the air. Sally, one of Jayne’s physiotherapists, smiled as she told me, “Swimming has been a game-changer for Jayne. After her stroke she initially found walking very difficult. She even found sitting up very difficult – she was having to be hoisted – so what she’s achieved is incredible. She lacks confidence in walking on dry land, but in the water, she says she feels free. Swimming has had huge benefits for her confidence, generally. And she’s able to get fit and exercise in water in a way that she can’t on land.”
You could tell that Jayne’s swimming instructor, Jenna, was extremely fond of her too. They would poke fun at each other and make jokes in a way that reminded me of a mother-daughter relationship. When I spoke to Jenna, she couldn’t sing Jayne’s praises enough:
“When we first met her, she couldn’t hold herself in the water – she needed three people to support her body and to keep her steady so that her face wasn’t going under. But she’s made an amazing improvement – she is fantastic. She’s done thirty-one lengths today! She did about three in her first session. It’s great. It’s great to see people grow and change and get help in recovering. Jayne’s part of the family now.”
Jenna then went on to say the same as Sally – that swimming has been paramount for Jayne and that it makes her feel free. She started laughing and also told me that Jayne enjoys a natter in the sauna with fellow Southglade-goers after her sessions.
Jayne’s husband Clive was around for moral support, too. You could clearly see his adoration for her and it was clear that Jayne’s rehabilitation journey had been a team effort between her, Clive and the lovely staff at Southglade.
When interviewing Jayne herself, it was heart-warming to see her talk about the centre with such joy. Read her interview below:
How long have you been coming to Southglade Leisure Centre?
About 8 months!
How has going to the Swim for Health sessions helped with your stroke rehabilitation journey?
It’s helped me to exercise and it’s helped my muscles, mobility and confidence. It’s been good!
And how have the staff been? How have they helped you?
Gooood! There are really nice staff.
What’s the best thing about them?
Jenna! She’s funny. I’m always laughing.
When you first started swimming, were you nervous?
Yes. There were people I didn’t know!
What’s the best bit about Southglade?
Swimming! No… the sauna!
What would you say to anyone else who has had a major health problem? What would be your encouraging words?
Swimming! Try it! Have a goal and do it! It helps – my pain’s gone and my heavy body is gone. It makes me feel fabulous and free.
What made you do the sponsored swim today?
I wanted to help people raise money to help the people who helped me.
When you saw everyone here today, how did you feel?
Now that you’ve finished the swim, how do you feel?
Good… amazing! It was hard work though! I did thirty-one lengths and the maximum amount I’ve done before is sixteen.
From doing no exercise to attending multiple Swim for Health sessions a week, Glyn has come a long way in a short space of time!
Glyn, who has Cerebral Palsy and Minor Autism and uses a wheelchair, has seen a remarkable improvement in his mobility and strength as well as a vast improvement in his mental health. He enjoys being able to get out of the house while doing something different.
Since finding out about Swim for Health, Glyn, aged 25 from Sherwood, has started swimming multiple times a week at different Swim for Health sessions.
“I started swimming mid-late summer 2018 after Dad & Rikki realised that there were Swim for Health sessions that would be great for me. I went from no swimming, to attending one session a week, to swimming constantly.
Obviously I really enjoy getting my body working. The physical benefits are really important but so are the benefits to my own well-being. I moan if we’re late for swimming or if life gets in the way of going! The sessions get me out of the house and doing something different.
I can now walk in and out of the pool rather than using the hoist. I’m also able to walk (aided, slightly) to and from the car, which I wasn’t able to do before! I’ve started sleeping better too, which gives me loads more energy! I have more strength in my upper and lower body which definitely makes doing things easier.
During the session I feel really happy and it makes me feel strong knowing that I’m actually able to do it. I get really stressed if I can’t come – swimming makes me determined to do more!
Having support is very important; swimming wouldn’t have been possible without my family to bring me here and support me in the pool.
The Poolside Helpers are also really important to me. Without Sharon I would never have reached 1,000m and without Ruth I would have never achieved my 1,500m. I would say the pool helpers are all very considerate and helpful, and super friendly and without them I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved!
To other disabled people who are thinking about being more active and taking up some form of exercise/sport but are not sure, I would say think about what you want to do first and just do it to the best of your ability. Find something you enjoy and take it at your own pace!”
To take a look at the Swim for Health Sessions and decide whether it’s for you, click to view the leaflet below.
SWIM FOR HEALTH