STA’s trustees are delighted to welcome Ayo Akinwolere to the board.
Dave Lewis, STA’s President, said: “When Ayo first spoke at STA’s conference in 2019, where he talked about many of his own personal swimming challenges, how he overcame them and even went on to set a new open water swimming world record when he was a presenter on Blue Peter, we understood then his unequivocal passion for swimming and that we could work together more meaningfully.”
“Through creating the THE SWIM CHALLENGE and incorporating the Swim Dem Crew, it was also clear that he had a deep desire to effect change positively, by making swimming more inclusive. We knew, from the get-go, his experience and insight would be hugely beneficial to STA as part of our role as an educational lifesaving charity and a national governing body for swimming.”
The next stage came in early 2020 (pre-pandemic), when Ayo trained to become an STA swimming teacher. Dave said: “This further strengthened relations because the training, Ayo said, gave him a greater insight into teaching, especially around teaching learners from different cultural backgrounds.”
“This insight is crucial for STA,” confirmed Dave. “As a result, we believe Ayo’s breadth of experience and passion, will add a fresh and independent viewpoint to board discussions moving forward.”
“He will play an important, and high-profile role as an STA Trustee – and particularly at this most crucial time too, as we start to recover from the pandemic and encourage more learners, of all ages and backgrounds, to start to get back in to swimming for fun, health and safety. As a board we very much look forward to working with Ayo to break down barriers and create even more positive opportunities for people to learn a key life skill,” said Dave.
Ayo is an award-winning broadcaster and during his time as a Blue Peter presenter (2006-2011), Ayo took on many major challenges including setting a new world record for the deepest location for an open water swim, swimming more than five miles across the Palau Trench in the Pacific Ocean.
Then after appearing on several shows including Celebrity Masterchef and The Great British Bake Off for Comic Relief, he has hosted shows for all the major broadcasters and can be seen on CBS in the United States on their Europa League coverage.
In 2015, Ayo also created THE SWIM CHALLENGE to prove that people with colour can swim. Through THE SWIM CHALLENGE project, he took 15 non-swimming adults of various ethnic backgrounds from across London and redesigned a swimming programme to teach them how to swim. In 10 weeks, the participants went through a gruelling swimming programme helped by the Swim Dem Crew, to try and challenge their fears of the water and furthermore learn to swim. All the participants learned to swim, and even more remarkable eight participants from the group went on to swim in open water with Ayo in the Great Manchester Swim and Great London Swim.
Since then, Ayo has continued to use his platform to be an advocate for swimming, and continues to support the Swim Dem Crew with their mission ‘to make the sport more inclusive, less solitary, and a lot more social’.
The next big leap as part of his ambitions to effect change is by agreeing to become an STA Trustee, and Ayo said: “I’m really looking forward to being woven into the fabric of the STA and bringing what I’ve learnt so far culturally and through sport into the fold. Swimming has become part of my life and its definitely an activity that’s going through a huge change in its identity and reaching newer audiences. I’m glad to be able to lend my hand in the process.”