A Sheffield grandad has overcome his lifelong fear of water by learning to swim – at the age of 64.
Norman Eyre, now 65, took the plunge after growing tired of making excuses to his grandchildren as to why he couldn’t join them in the pool.
None of his family knew about his fear of water and he was always forced to miss out on the fun during holidays due to his anxieties.
He therefore decided to put things right once and for all last year by joining a swimming class at Ponds Forge.
“It didn’t happen overnight; I was terrified as I walked to my first class and it wasn’t until my second block of lessons that I could do anything,” Norman said.
“Then, during one of my beginner classes, I managed to swim from one end of the pool to the other.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Norman now takes part in advanced swimming lessons at Ponds Forge after taking to the beginner classes like a duck to water.
He’s now able to do somersaults into the water and even has the confidence to jump in off the diving boards.
He said: “The sense of achievement of swimming a length for the first time was absolutely fantastic. I’ve learnt more than just to swim, and I’ve gained so much more confidence.
“I’ve also gained a new set of friends who I really enjoy seeing every week.”
Norman’s progress hasn’t gone unnoticed at Ponds Forge and the leisure centre’s aquatics manager, Bev Baker, has praised him for having the courage to arrange swimming lessons.
“Norman did a very brave thing – and has reaped the benefits,” she said.
“It really does go to show that age is just a number. Nobody should be afraid of learning to do anything, least of all swim, at any age.
“Not only am I impressed with how Norman has become an avid swimmer but I’m also impressed by how far he’s progressed – it’s clear that he’s genuinely a natural swimmer.”
Norman is now a supporter of the #feelgood campaign – a scheme created to encourage Sheffield folk to become more physically active.
The campaign has been set up by SIV – a charity created by Sheffield City Trust to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Sheffield.
SIV facilities have been responsible for the success of homegrown heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill, who won a gold medal at London 2012.