Bonnie Tyler reveals she learnt to swim at 69 - how to get started swimming as a grown-up

Bonnie Tyler has revealed she learnt to swim as an adult.  (SWNS)
Bonnie Tyler has revealed she learnt to swim as an adult. (SWNS)

Bonnie Tyler has revealed she has learnt to swim at the age of 69 after nearly drowning when she fell off her yacht.

The singer says she has always been scared of water, but was forced to take action after tumbling from her boat in the Algarve more than ten years ago.

Speaking on the Andy Jaye podcast, the Total Eclipse Of The Heart singer said: “At the grand age of 69 I’ve just learnt to swim – it’s taken me long enough.

“I should have learnt to swim way before now, but I had a lot of traumas in the sea, falling off my yacht and everything.

“So I was a bit afraid of water but I’m not anymore. Although I don’t go in the deep end, I do 40 widths a day instead.”

Tyler says when she fell overboard more than a decade ago she was saved by her husband, Robert Sullivan, who pulled her from the sea.

Read more: Why cold water swimming has become so popular during lockdown

The singer says she had a fear of water having fallen off a yacht into the sea. (SWNS)
The singer says she had a fear of water having fallen off a yacht into the sea. (SWNS)

One in three adults in England cannot swim, according to recent statistics by Swim England have revealed .

Almost a third of the adult population in England cannot swim one length of a 25m pool, but a quarter would like to learn how.

Swim England is keen to highlight the benefits of swimming as a valuable life skill and encourage more adults to take the plunge and learn how to swim.

“Swimming is a valuable life skill and it is so important that we continue to highlight its benefits in a bid to reduce the number of individuals unable to swim,” explains Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive.

“Through the #LoveSwimming campaign, we’ve shown the benefits of swimming on mental wellbeing, physical health, social cohesion and family connection.

“I believe that those who learn to swim in later life should be celebrated. The sessions are welcoming, supportive and very well run but it takes a real hero to learn in their adult years.”

Read more: How to keep fit and stay motivated while gyms are shut and it's freezing outside

As well as being an important life skill, swimming is a great form of all-round exercise and has a wealth of health benefits both physically and mentally.

According to the NHS regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.

It can also boost your mood and keep your weight under control.

So there are plenty of reasons to make swimming part of your fitness regime, and if you cannot swim, it's never too late to learn.

“Most pools cater for a variety of needs and abilities, such as women-only classes, parent-and-toddler groups, and lessons for different age groups,” the NHS advises.

Watch: How one woman in her 60s found joy in wild swimming.

Tips on overcoming a fear of water

Swim England has provided some tips on overcoming a fear of swimming.

  • Start by getting your feet wet and try to gradually get deeper into the water.

  • When you can, stand in water deep enough splash water on your face as if you are washing it. At the same time think of positive images while you are splashing your face.

  • Next try to learn to hold your breath under the water and breathe out into the water. Basically, blow bubbles!

  • Hold the side and practice kicking with your body stretched out.

  • Don’t feel rushed to make progress.

  • And finally, remember you are not alone. Comedian Frank Skinner was 55 when he decided to face his ultimate fear and learn to swim for the Big Splash Mile for Sport Relief. He said: “I really threw myself in at the deep end and faced one of my biggest phobias, swimming, by completing a 25 metre width. It felt great to challenge myself.”

Read more: Halle Berry, 54, dons cut-out bikini to share message that age is not a barrier to fitness

It's never too late to learn to swim. (Getty Images)
It's never too late to learn to swim. (posed by model, Getty Images)

Tips on making your first swimming session that bit easier

If you’re keen to grab your goggles and dip your toes in the shallow water, Keri-anne Payne, fitness swimming ambassador for Better Leisure has put together some tips to make your swim as easy as possible - so you can swim smarter, not harder.

  • To keep a regular rhythm, breathe in through the mouth and out through the nose. The key is to stay relaxed and only breathe as much as you need, not as much as you think you need.

  • To reduce your drag and keep your body in a straight line, look down and feel your legs come up behind you.

  • For efficient propulsion, move the water through the centre line of the body and feel like you're pulling from your finger tips and that you are engaging your lateral muscles

  • Lastly, don't try and master everything at once - work on one thing at a time. Once you've got the hang of this, move onto the next thing.

While pools are currently closed as part of the national lockdown, to find facilities that offer adult learn to swim sessions when they reopen click here.

To find out more about swimming facilities and lessons near you, visit

Additional reporting SWNS.

Watch: Couple uses paddling pool to keep up swimming in lockdown.