Freya Anderson: It’s amazing the impact swimming teachers have

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From hating her early swimming lessons to becoming a European champion and World Championship medallist – Freya Anderson’s journey has certainly been an interesting one.

Now 18, Freya is busy preparing for next year’s Tokyo Olympics but has an important engagement first when she appears as a guest speaker at the Swim England Teaching and Education Awards in November.

It’s an event the freestyler is looking forward to as the very best of our swimming workforce in the UK are celebrated.

Freya remarked: “I’m sure I’ll get a little nervous before speaking but three years ago I would have completely refused to do it! I’ve become a lot more confident since then and really enjoy telling my story and hopefully inspiring others now.”

The Birkenhead-born swimmer claimed two gold and two bronze medals at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow before teaming up with Adam Peaty, James Guy and Georgia Davies to win bronze in the 4x100m mixed medley relay at this year’s World Championships.

Gaining confidence

It was initially a different story for Freya, who took a little time to enjoy organised lessons as a youngster.

She explained: “When I first went to a proper swimming lesson I hated it! I felt like I had been put in a group that was too high for my ability and I was always at the back of the lane. So I’m not sure how I’ve ended up here to be honest – I must have started liking it at some point!

“Since then I’ve had a good relationship with every teacher and coach I’ve had, which made me feel more comfortable. Then you gain confidence and enjoy it more, which is a great cycle to get into.”

She continued: “The main reason I started swimming lessons was to be safe in the water. The swimming teachers don’t know where their swimmers are going to end up – no one knew back then that I would be preparing for an Olympic Games one day. They just put all that time and effort into every swimmer to ensure they are safe and enjoying their time in the pool. It’s amazing the impact they have.”

Helping youngsters to improve

“I do swim clinics now where I help my coach with sessions, and I really enjoy teaching the young kids and seeing them improve. That’s really satisfying – to ensure they have that confidence and enjoyment in the water.”

Looking ahead to 2020 and the Tokyo Olympics, Freya added: “Training is pretty tough at the moment, but it’s great having a goal to work towards. If you’re struggling in a set you tell yourself ‘Come on, Freya – the Olympics are less than 300 days away, just keep working!’

“I’m feeling a real mixture of nerves and excitement, but I’ve got a fair bit of experience now so I should be in top condition and ready to perform when we get to Tokyo.”

  • The Swim England Teaching and Education Conference and Awards take place on November 18 and 19 at voco St. John’s Hotel in Solihull. Click here for more information.