Community swimming group, Swim Dem Crew, have been recognised at the annual British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards (BEDSA) for their outstanding work encouraging adults from all backgrounds to learn how to swim.
Held on Saturday (6 February) at Grosvenor House in London, the evening celebrated the achievements and contribution of people from black and minority ethnic communities in sport.
Nominated by the ASA, Swim Dem Crew was awarded the Sport England Community Project of the Year Award following the success of their social swim sessions and swimming lesson programme.
Accepting the award alongside fellow members, Peigh Asante, Nathaniel Cole and Andy Akinwolere, GLL swimming teacher Harley Hicks, said: “In a lot of our projects, people seem to have the perception that everyone else can swim apart from themselves, but actually one fifth of adults in the country can’t swim.
“Two of the guys here with me on stage only learned to swim in the last few years; they learned to swim as adults and are now helping to change the perception of swimming. So it’s never too late to learn how to swim.”
Swim Dem Crew was founded in 2013 around a love of swimming. 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 in London, providing a social space for people to get together and become more confident in the water.
Co-founder Asante also took the opportunity to pay tribute to BEDSA Unsung Hero Award finalist, Angeline Tshiyane, who amongst other achievements has set up the Njuzu Community Swimming Group in Newport.
Dedicating the award to Angeline, Asante said: “Earlier this evening Angeline came and said she was inspired by us and had started an amazing project in Newport teaching people to swim. Accolades and things like that are great, but actually inspiring others to go out and start projects like this is what we’re really about. So, this is for you and everyone else who is out there getting people swimming.”
Radio and TV presenter LadyXsize, who started her own swimming journey at the weekend with Swim London 2016, said: “I’m so pleased that Swim Dem Crew won. People don’t like to admit they can’t swim but it is such a great skill. I’m a little bit nervous about starting my lessons tomorrow, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
England Programmes and GB Junior Synchronised Swimmer, Rebecca Richardson, added: “It’s been really great to be at the BEDSAs and hear all the inspiring stories from past and current athletes. I think it’s important that everybody has an equal opportunity to take part in sports.”