Positive Strokes is the competitive swimming extension of the Positive Health scheme racing under the umbrella of Out To Swim. Positive Health was established by the YMCA Club in 1997 and the programme allows HIV women and men to take part in a bespoke exercise plan with the guidance and support from professional fitness instructors. Furthermore, the programme offers dedicated exercise classes, talks about living with HIV, workshops and social gatherings throughout the year. So far, 15,000 HIV positive people have participated in the scheme with a 91% satisfaction rate, whereby participants are feeling better about themselves through taking part in the programme. Swimming classes are included in the Positive Health programme.
In the words on one of our swimmers
Neville: "My own experience as someone who was Hep C and HIV infected at the time when I started in 2009 is the best evidence and proof of the healing power of the careful, genuinely inclusive and first class training that is on offer with Positive Health and more recently with Positive Strokes, irrespective of one’s starting point. The message for all of us is simple:
You Are Healthy, You Can Swim and You are as able to improve your physical abilities, fitness and performance just like anyone else and YOU ARE WELCOME.
What we do
As the swimming classes became more and more popular and swimmers started showing interest in taking part in competitions, Positive Strokes was established in 2015, with its unique identity and brand. Since then, many swimmers have competed at international and national competitions, with the logistical and valuable support from Out To Swim swimming club. Being able to swim within the group and at competitions whilst being open about their HIV status has proven to be very beneficial and liberating for some of the swimmers. It has allowed them to exercise without worrying about any of the stigma attached to their condition and also to demonstrate to themselves and to others that they can be as competitive and performing as anybody else.
In the press
In 2017 we won the prestigious Swim England innovation award which led to a feature article in swimming times. Read more here.
More info and to join
Positive Strokes classes take place every Friday in a dedicated lane, at the YMCA Club, 112 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NQ. The classes cater for 3 groups:
- Group 1, Beginners, from 12:00 to 12:45
- Group 2, Intermediate from 12:45 to 13:30
- Group 3, Advanced or pre-club from 13:30 to 14:30
Several qualified teachers volunteer on a rotation basis and provide personalised teaching, with a different focus depending on the group. In group 1, they help beginners with gaining confidence in the water, moving safely, breathing techniques and the basics for each of the 4 strokes. In group 2, the focus is to develop all 4 strokes, improve stamina, develop new aquatic skills such as diving or treading water. In group 3, more advanced swimming sets are introduced, including aerobics or High Velocity Overload sets as well as perfecting tumble turns. The programme allows for a degree of flexibility depending on swimmers’ objectives or upcoming competitions.
Attendance to the Positive Strokes classes varies depending on the time of the year. In average, there are 5 swimmers per group, per session.
Interested in joining?
HIV positive people who are interested in the programme are welcome to give the swimming class a try. To join the Positive Health programme, please fill in the form below.