Adam Walker, who made his name in swimming by becoming the first Brit to complete the Oceans Seven, has just opened the Ocean Walker Academy at a purpose-built lake in Lincolnshire.
After completing his Oceans Sevens challenge, Adam created a swimming coaching business under the Ocean Walker brand. Through this, he has delivered training camps around the world. A job he loves, especially when he compares it to his previous career as a toaster salesman.
However, he says, “I’ve always got so much out of helping people that I wondered if I could do even more if I had my own place.”
After trying and failing to buy a lake he decided the best option would be to buy some land and dig his own lake. That way, he could design it specifically for outdoor swimming, including a gradual sloping ramp for easy access and islands to add interest. He also created a shallow (1m to 1.2m deep) area the size of a swimming pool (25m x 12m) that he’s lined with AstroTurf for less confident swimmers and children.
“I wanted to create a safe, controlled-depth area for children to try out open water swimming as I believe it’s an important skill to learn when you are young,” he said, before adding that his partner Gemma personally stitched the pieces of Astroturf together to make on big carpet.
As the project developed, his ambitions grew. Not only will the lake be for swimming, but working with Gemma, he has built a year-round wellness centre. A converted barn will host yoga and Pilates classes, for example, as well as an endless pool for coaching and swim technique work.
“There are so many people facing mental and physical health challenges. I wanted to create something special that will make a real difference to people’s lives,” says Adam.
Adam and Gemma have worked hard to make the Ocean Walker Academy accessible to people with a wide range of physical and mental disabilities. Everything is accessible by wheelchair, including the gardens, which have sunset views over the lake.
“It was important for us that wherever able-bodied swimmers can go, so could wheelchair users,” says Adam.
Starting a new business during a pandemic has been a bigger challenging than completing the Oceans Seven according to Adam. “Luckily, my family rallied to the cause and helped us get everything finished on time.”
The Ocean Walker Academy opened on 19 June 2021. Find out more: https://oceanwalkeracademy.com/