Competitive swimmer and swimming coach Alison Tam is passionate about helping people discover a love of swimming and confidence in the water.
You swam competitively at school, before going into a corporate career. What drew you back to swimming?
I represented Hong Kong from the age of nine at international age group meets until I left Hong Kong for England at the age of 14. I still swam competitively but much less so until I left university. Once I started my corporate career in the environmental and sustainability realm, I didn’t swim at all. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and had just sold my jewellery business that I rediscovered swimming. I was looking to take a break when a friend asked me to teach him how to swim. Once I started teaching him, I found I loved being in the water and sharing my knowledge of swimming. Everything just spiralled from there. Soon I was teaching more students and I got the itch to compete again, so I joined Fastlane, a competitive masters swim team. From being a one-woman band, I now have a team of caring and qualified coaches to help me bring the joys of water to our students.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is being able to help people overcome their own barriers surrounding water – whether it be mental or physical – in order to achieve a specific goal. Some of our most impactful courses are those for adults. Over the last few years we have helped numerous adults overcome their fear of the water. They may have had a traumatic experience when they were younger or some just avoided the water for so long that they built up a fear. Some may not have had access to swimming lessons as a child, which is often the case for domestic helpers.
What are some of the benefits of swimming, beyond physical fitness?
Being able to overcome fear around water has a huge effect on one’s wellbeing. It gives them an emotional release, feelings of accomplishment, a boost in confidence and can help them tackle other situations with less fear.
Tell us about your swimming classes for domestic helpers. Why do you think it’s important to offer this service?
Part of our mission is to be more inclusive in providing access to swimming lessons. As part of our community drive, we offer free swim classes to domestic helpers. They are welcome to join our regular adult classes, but we often find they are much more comfortable being with their peers. Targeted lessons enable them to be more confident and often they gain new friends through the programme.
Learn more at www.alisontamswimming.com