A man has gone from being a learner swimmer to a lifesaver after he swapped number crunching for a poolside career.
Martin Gallagher has gained his National Pool Lifeguarding qualification through Everyone Active after its staff helped him swim through its classes.
I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of learning this life-saving skill, and I’m hoping to start training to become a swim teacher later on this year with the aim of helping others stay safe in water.Martin Gallagher
The 27-year-old, who lives in Sunderland, previously worked as a data analyst and took up hiking two years ago to keep fit.
After finding himself following paths that took him close to rivers and lakes, Martin quickly recognised that he needed to learn how to swim in case he ever ended up in the water and started taking lessons at the Aquatic Centre.
“I never learnt how to swim when I was younger and it had never been something I thought about doing,” he said.
“It wasn’t until I began to take hiking more seriously and started venturing close to open water that I realised how important it was for my safety.”
One in five adults across the UK cannot swim and hundreds die each year through drowning, while hundreds more suffer life-changing injuries as a result of near drowning.
Everyone Active offers a number of swimming courses for adults across its Wearside centres as it works to improve these statistics and keep people safe in and around water.
Martin said: “I began swimming lessons at Sunderland Aquatic Centre in June last year.
“I found I really enjoyed the sessions and accelerated through my classes, becoming one of the fastest.
“It was then that I decided to take on a new challenge and become a lifeguard.”
Everyone Active part-funded Martin’s lifeguard qualification and offered advice and support throughout his training.
Exactly a year after he started his swimming lessons, Martin qualified and started working at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.
He now has his sights set on a new challenge.
Martin added: “Everyone Active were fantastic at supporting me through my lifeguard training and I am really enjoying working at Sunderland Aquatic Centre.
“I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of learning this life-saving skill, and I’m hoping to start training to become a swim teacher later on this year with the aim of helping others stay safe in water.”
Steve Dougal, the centre’s general manager said: “As the UK’s longest established leisure operator, we are committed to providing excellent training opportunities for the local community.
“Martin has shown that it is never too late to learn how to swim and I would encourage anyone who is looking to learn this life-saving skill to find out more about our fantastic adult swim lessons.”