“Swimming, especially in lockdown, has given me that chance to breathe. It sounds silly, but when you push off the wall and you glide, there’s something nice about stretching out and floating and moving. That feeling of something else holding me rather than me having to hold myself up,” says Cole.
“I’ve got quite a busy head; my mind is busy, and I can’t stop thinking. I can’t stop moving and I can’t stop doing. When I get in the water, it is a bit of a moment of pause. There’s no real distractions,” agrees Asante.
I wonder, as the country carefully makes its transition out of lockdown, what does the future hold for Swim Dem? “The immediate future is a safe return to the pool. We traditionally would run four sessions a week but we’re going to start with one and build ourselves back up,” explains Asante.
Today, Swim Dem has a 200 strong crew on their books, with a seriously engaged following on social media to boot. So big is their reach that similar collectives are popping up across the world, inspired by their approach to the pool.
“We’ve had people message us personally from the States and different places. We’ve happily given them our blessing and they’ve gone on to start their own communities, which is amazing to see… Yes, it’s not called “Swim Dem America” but when we’re laid to rest, we’ll know that we did that,” says Asante. “This thing that started [nearly] 10 years ago has managed to empower and inspire communities around the globe.”
What, I ask, do they hope will be the Swim Dem legacy? “I feel like we have helped change the perception of what a swimmer is,” explains Cole. “Before, when me and Peigh would speak, we used to want to have a kid at the Olympics but that’s not where my heart is anymore. The legacy would be more communities like Swim Dem all over the world and more places for them to swim.”
It sounds, to me, like they’re already there.