A London-based swimming project has been recognised for its outstanding work by scooping a prestigious gong at the annual British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards in London.
Community Sports Project of the Year
For many of us who belong to the generations of yesteryear, learning to swim was a stiff, almost military experience, with old-fashioned, dictatorial instructors barking orders from the side of the pool.
The Swim Dem Crew is helping to change all of that, and at the start of February they collected the Sport England Community Sports Project of the Year Award at a glittering ceremony attended by sports stars such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and Frank Bruno.
According to the Amateur Swimming Association, one in five adults in England – around nine million people – can’t swim, while the sport has sometimes suffered from a perception that it is a white, middle-class pursuit.
The Swim Dem project, founded in 2013 is challenging that perception, and it believes the communal experience is every bit as important as the act of swimming itself.
Just three years after its inception, Swim Dem has been recognised for its success in championing swimming, building a large community based on a love for swimming, and – crucially – for attracting people within BME communities to get involved in swimming.
Swim Dem Crew has had phenomenal success in championing swimming as not only a fantastic way to get exercise but also a crucial life skill for those who were either too scared to try swimming or who had simply never been given the opportunity before. Swim Dem Crew is a truly deserving winner of the Sport England Community Sports Project Award”Arun Kang, Chief Executive Officer of Sporting Equals who founded the awards
Swim Dem is also proving it’s never too late to learn to swim. Two of the crew only learned to swim in the last few years and are now helping to change the perception of swimming.
How and why was Swim Dem founded?
One of those latecomers to swimming was DJ, writer and poet Charlie Dark, Charlie set up the Run Dem Club back in 2007 as a multi-faceted, socially conscious alternative to more traditional and straightforward running clubs. Swim Dem Crew was founded along similar lines in the summer of 2013, as an offshoot, by three Run Dem members, and it has scarcely looked back.
Last year, with the support of the Swimming Trust, they successfully challenged a group of non-swimmers to take part in the Great Manchester Swim. Now the group holds weekly swimming sessions at different pools across London, providing a social space for people to get together and become more confident in the water.
They are helping to revolutionise how swimming is taught – a far cry from the stuffy old teaching of yore.
This project is a great example of a modern, progressive and forward-thinking sports club – blending the fundamental sports stuff with a modern, socially-conscious heart. Sport is the greatest tool we have for aiding community and social development, and the Swim Dem Crew is showing everybody the way forward.
- Check out our interview with the Swim Dem Crew
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