Pride Swim at London Aquatics Centre gives members of the LGBTQIA+ community “a voice”

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The London Aquatics Centre recently held a Pride Swim, providing a safe and inclusive space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies.

Taking place on Saturday, June 29, the event was part of a nationwide initiative that first made waves at the London Aquatics Centre during the Aquatics GB Swimming Championships in April.

Steven, who attended the Pride Swim with his family ahead of his daughter’s birthday, explained the importance of the event.

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He said: “We have a lot of friends from the LGBTQIA+ community, and it’s great to be able to come and support them and show love and kindness through this event. We attended as a group of 14 people, and it was an excellent session which educated children on inclusivity whilst showing support to individuals feeling comfortable and confident.

Pride Swim group photo.Pride Swim group photo.
Pride Swim group photo.

“Growing up, I had friends who couldn’t speak out and found it difficult to express themselves, but sessions like these give these individuals a voice.

“There is too much hate in the world, so it’s great we can show a bit more love and show LGBTQIA+ individuals they do have friends who want to celebrate and support their choices. I think events like this show inclusivity and allow people to come together.”

Helping to support the physical and mental health of participants and encourage inclusion during Pride Month, the Pride Swim also raised money for Switchboard, the national LGBTQIA+ Support Line, in their 50th year.

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“From my personal experience with friends, Pride events help support their mental health,” explains Steven.

“Events like these allows them to express themselves in a space they feel like they can relate to. Talking to my friends, they feel it’s a safe place where they can see a representation of themselves, so they feel more comfortable.

“I think visibility and representation in sports for the LGBTQIA+ community is massively important. We still have a long way to go, but events like these which represent the community and give them a voice really help.”

The initiative was run by Out & Wild Events, IMPROPER Agency and aquatics club Out to Swim, with support from Swim England and London Marathon Events.

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Leading leisure operator Everyone Active, one of the core event partners, runs the London Aquatics Centre at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

Chris Wells, Everyone Active’s contract manager, said: “We are thrilled to have hosted such an exciting, inclusive event for a wonderful cause. Whilst we are incredibly proud of our state-of-the-art facilities, it is the people and the sense of community which really brings the London Aquatics Centre to life. We look forward to hosting similar events in the future where visitors can improve their physical health and wellbeing in a supportive space.”

Edward Fane, Head of Venues for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, said: “Pride Swim was a fantastic event providing the opportunity to showcase this amazing safe, inclusive space where everyone is welcome all year round.”

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