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I am a Shaw Method swimmer: Cherry Cridge
Cherry Cridge’s memories of childhood swimming lessons are typical of those who learned in large classes at school: eventually picking up some breaststroke technique, swimming with the head up, and worrying about big boys pushing her head under.
How often did you swim after you left school?
I swam on holidays but not much in between, until my late 20s when, as a primary school teacher, I accompanied children to the baths where the instructor always left me with a group to try to teach them. How ironic! After watching some children who didn’t seem to have any fear of the water, I decided I would try swimming with goggles, and, at the age of 35, managed to swim a length of the outdoor pool in a holiday resort under water! This motivated me to swim regularly and I started to swim once or twice a week on the way home from a very stressful job.
What attracted you to Shaw Method?
For years I was in awe of people who could swim front crawl. Then, sometime before I was due to take early retirement, I remembered an article I had read about Shaw Method. This seemed to be the answer to my desire to swim front crawl. Sadly, most of the lessons were not easily accessible for me. I did, however, manage to attend my first one-day class with Steven Shaw (60 miles from home).
What were your first impressions?
I was very impressed with Steven’s introductory talk. His views and reason for his technique seemed to match my needs and my lack of confidence. I came away feeling that, at last, I would soon be able to achieve my goal, but it was a big class and it was not always easy for me to see or understand the practices and how they would help me.
Did you have any more lessons?
During the following ten years, whilst I kept swimming weekly when possible, I was unable to pursue regular lessons. I started to realise that everything I did on my first one-day course was disappearing and resolved to travel to a venue where I could have another attempt. Over the past 12–15 years I have attended two day workshops with Steven, six half-hour private lessons with another Shaw Method teacher, which developed my confidence, and a week’s swimming holiday in Gozo. I’ve just completed a three-day course with Steven at Champneys.
How do you find your swimming now?
My breaststroke is more efficient, my back crawl is very relaxing and “stylish” (according to friends) and, I have been able to swim a whole length of front crawl without having to stop to breathe. I am determined to develop a relaxed and confident front crawl style even though I am now 70.
What advice would you give to other swimmers?
I believe it is important to practise the skills that Steven demonstrates regularly and to recognise what is not going right for you. Further lessons can help enormously, and will make sure that you are not reinforcing poor technique.