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The Big Swim - Catch up with Hanna Gillespie

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Hanna Gilespie:

She never learnt how to swim; she did try over the years but never got the hang of it. She has 6 children and she made sure that they could all swim as she though it was very important for them all to know. She has 14 Grand kids and most of them can swim. She is not really afraid of the water so does not really know why she can't master this.

Her husband can swim but she describes it as a funny looking doggy paddle but loves to swim. When she had a young family they did not get the opportunity to go on many holidays but her grown children now have sent her and her husband away on holidays, they have been to Greece & Canaries and she would love to be able to swim on her holidays instead of sitting on the side of the pool.

She really wants to do this and when she heard that TAS were looking for people to get involved she though that this could be her opportunity to finally master this with the proper help. She is retried now. She loves to keep herself busy and has attended lots of classes including Art and Spanish. She likes to keep active and enjoys walking as a way of keeping healthy.

Hanna on her progress: I think it is going quite well and my instructor (Pamela) is happy with my progress.

She has introduced me to several swimming techniques and is currently doing the breast stroke. She is happy with the way I'm doing the circles with my legs and I enjoy this. I have not yet mastered the co-ordination of this with my arms. She is confident that I can do this in time.

I wasted a fortnight due to bronchitis and that was my biggest disappointment but, I have recovered from this and now able to do my very best.

I worried about the swimming challenge on the 21st but I will do my very best and I am so grateful to be given this brilliant opportunity. If I go on holiday I will be able to get into the pool and enjoy and that will be worth it all.

Pamela Cribbin:

I feel that learning to swim should be fun, enjoyable and above all safe. Everyone learns to swim at their own pace and will progress at their own level and in my opinion if they learn the basics of all the strokes and with a lots of encouragement they learn to swim and gain a love for swimming for life, just like I have.

I began my swimming career by teaching children's classes and as my interest grew, I continued with further education in areas such as lifeguarding, first aid and aqua aerobics. With all areas in life, you can always learn something new and to that effect, I am continually developing my skills within the industry.

Although I teach at many different levels and abilities, the one I take most pride and enjoyment is teaching beginners and nervous swimmers. Its amazing how a little encouragement is all most people need to take the first steps and results can be seen in a surprisingly short period of time. Apart from the teaching aspect, swimming especially for adults can be seen as a social outlet and a great way of getting fit while learning a new skill at the same time.

On Hanna's progress:

When we started off 5weeks ago Hanna was extremely nervous. We had two really good sessions and was just learning how to stand from her back and starting to swim with a board on her back when she got a chest infection and was out for over a week, I thought it would set her back but thankfully it only hindered her fitness, she still had the basics I had thought her but got tired very quickly.

From the start we decided we would aim to swim on our back for the big swim. Every session she progressed a little and never seemed to fall backwards but her level of fitness was and will always be low, she is a very active woman but it needs to be remembered she is 73years.

Most of our lessons began with a little floating and just feeling the way the body felt in the water, she learned very quickly to skull the water on her back.

We started on the woggle for everything and then progressed to a large kick board.


We are still on the board and haven't really achieved adding our arms, the only part of breathing is to breathe out under the water and lift the head straight up to breath in. This is the weakest stoke that Hanna does but tries so hard on it. She can float and kick her legs and stand on her own on her front, but we work mostly with the board.


Hanna has started to feel comfortable with this stroke. She had the basic movement of her legs with the woggle but as I had banned it we started on the board, we done one full session of legs only on breaststroke and her glide really came together. Hanna finds it very difficult to coordinate both arms and legs together.


Hanna is flying on this stroke; she can do a full length in Clane (20metres) on her back with no board. Hanna really tries when we add the arms in but on occasions she is a little to enthuastic and pull to hard and ends up with her head under the water but has really improved on it over the last 2 sessions.

Today at the recording she took a massive step, it was the first session she was in the pool on

GUINNESS WORLD RECORD: Mention this at the end of item, on the day we will have the figures of what pools are lacking in numbers and we will plug those places to get people involved.

Would you like to help The Afternoon Show set a new Guinness World Record? With the help of the following locations around the country and Swim Ireland you can do just that. You need to be free on Friday the 21st of May between 2pm and 6pm and over the age of 16 in order to participate. For further information call into your nearest location.


The National Aquatic Centre - Dublin -

JJB Sports Centre - Dundalk please call ph: 042 939 1300

Jackson's Hotel - Ballybofey, Donegal -

Sligo Regional Sports Centre - Sligo -

Kingfisher - Renmore, Galway -

Athlone Regional Sports Centre -

Coral Leisure - Killarney -

Sanovitae Leisure Centre - Cork City -

Sean Kelly Sports Centre - Carrick on Suir -

Waterfront Pool - Enniscorthy -

For information on Swim Ireland go to: