A MOTHER from Didcot has conquered her fear of swimming and wants others to feel inspired by her achievement.

Helen Mbaziira has thrown her support behind a national campaign which celebrates adults who have learnt to swim later in life.

The 43-year-old was keen to learn the skill after she felt helpless when her daughter came into difficulty in a swimming pool.

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Originally from Uganda, where she says swimming lessons were not part of the culture and not encouraged, Ms Mbaziira developed a fear of the water after witnessing drownings.

She admitted she was worried what people might think about the fact that she could not swim so she took part in the Love Swimming campaign to conquer her fears.

She said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be part of the Love Swimming campaign and have the opportunity to share my story, in the hope that it might inspire others to give swimming a go.

“It’s been my goal and my dream to be able to swim and I’ve gone for it.

“If there is no public-associated stigma as an adult who couldn’t swim, at least there was an internal stigma for myself. I was really worried what people might think of me and why I have not been able to swim up until this point in time.

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“I have made sure my daughters can swim but I’ve never been able to enjoy it with them."

With recent figures suggesting as many as one in three adults in England cannot swim, Ms Mbaziira is urging people across the country to give swimming a go.

She has had lessons and is proud of herself that she can now swim 15 metres which she says is "fantastic".

She added: “I’ve exceeded what I expected to achieve but I’m not going to stop now. I’m going to carry on swimming and keep surprising my family and my wonderful swimming teacher. I can’t wait to put into practice everything I’ve been taught.”

Ms Mbaziira's story is part of a wider campaign by Swim England and their nine partners highlighting the benefits of swimming as a valuable life skill in a nationwide drive to encourage more adults to take the plunge and learn how to swim.

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Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive said: "By telling stories of inspiring people like Helen who have learnt in later life, we hope to encourage more individuals to take up swimming.

“Swimming is a valuable life skill and it is so important that we continue to highlight its benefits in a bid to reduce the number of individuals unable to swim."