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80-year-old takes the plunge and Learns to Swim – Angus woman shows it’s never too late to try something new

An 80-year old women has showed it’s never too late to learn new tricks as she learns to swim in her golden years.

After decades of avoiding the water, Gloria Mitchell from Kirriemuir conquered her fear and took part in the Learn to Swim program at her local ANGUSalive facility, Webster’s Sports Centre.

The Learn to Swim National Framework – a partnership between Scottish Swimming and Scottish Water – has already seen more than 100,000 individuals take part in lessons up and down the country and is targeting another 100,000 by 2025.

For Gloria, having tried to learn to swim in the early seventies at Forfar Public Baths, the then instructor had laughed when she got out of her depth which had terrified her. Her fear was so great, to the extent that she would only venture as far as the children’s paddling pool while watching her friends swim on holidays abroad.

Feeling left out among her friends, the local lady was inspired and was determined to learn to swim for her next holiday abroad.

Glora said: “Back in April, I asked Webster’s Sports Centre in Kirriemuir if they’d be willing to register an eighty-year-old on beginners Learn to Swim swimming lessons.

“They were more than delighted to help, but I swore them to secrecy so that my travel companions wouldn’t find out about it as I wanted to surprise them with my newfound ability to swim while we were next aboard.

“When in Turkey they persuaded me to get in the big pool, the water was up my shoulders, I pretended I was wary.

“Then someone said they didn’t like putting their face in the water, so with that statement I put my face in the water and floated to the side, their faces were a picture! They couldn’t believe it when I then swam back to the middle. To see their faces and the thrill I had doing it was well worthwhile!

“It’s thanks to all the staff at Websters who encouraged me from day one. I will still be attending lessons as having had a knee replacement I want to get my kicks stronger, but I can finally SWIM! I hope that by telling my story, others will find the courage to learn to swim, you’re never too old to fulfil your wishes.”

Learn to Swim is a National Framework committed to creating supportive and quality environments in which individuals can learn to swim regardless of their age, ability, or skill level. It aims to develop safe, confident and competent swimmers, as well as encouraging youngsters to adopt a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle with sport and fun at its heart to reach their full potential both in the pool and out.

ANGUSalive’s swim teacher at Webster’s Emma Redford, who taught Gloria to swim said: “It’s been such a joy to work with Gloria and help her to achieve her goal of learning to swim. Everyone at Webster’s Sports Centre thinks she’s a real inspiration and it’s been great fun trying to keep her attendance at lessons a secret from everyone who knows her.

For more information on the Learn to Swim programme, visit

For more information about ANGUSalive, visit:

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