Freedom to Swim is an Empowering Exercise

“The [woman] who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it”  Woodrow Wilson.

Women and girl survivors of modern slavery know what it is like to swim against the stream where obstacles lie. And, they also know what it is like to overcome hardships and adversity in life. The freedom to swim gives them empowerment through a sense of accomplishment. This in effect helps them feel that they are able to live beyond their traumatic past. They can be in the present and pursue a successful future. 

At The Freedom Hub, women and girl survivors of modern slavery are given the opportunity to engage in activities that were once impossible. In some parts of the world, women and girls are not allowed to swim in public swimming pools. However, here in Australia, it is quite the opposite. Women and girls who want to swim can freely learn to do so with other female learners in public pools.

The Freedom Hub offers slavery survivors the opportunity to learn how to swim in a safe, accepting group environment. Here, they also develop strong social connections with others from similar walks of life. Swimming is an empowering exercise that also boosts inner confidence.


Most Australians have experienced the freedom of being in the pool and being encouraged by a swimming coach. For our survivors the freedom and excitement to learn a new activity like swimming is life changing. Many have never seen a pool or been in the water before. This experience creates positive personal growth for our survivors.

One of our survivors after she ‘floated’ for the first time in her life said:

“I have never in my whole life felt so free.”

The female students join our swimming lessons so that they can swim more confidently. But more importantly, to experience the feeling of being able to accomplish something they never dreamt they could do. 

Swimming Program Outcomes

The Freedom Hub’s Swimming Program is trauma informed with plenty of encouragement. Therefore the classes are tailored to meet the individual learning needs of each women and girl. They leave the swimming class feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, empowered, confident and encouraged. This has an enormous impact on their mental health. They are provided with a safe space and place to connect with others who have similar experiences. Human contact and having fun, gives them space to forget the past.

Our patient, caring and friendly female swimming coaches are professional instructors through our community partner Belgravia Leisure. And they are trained and watched by our own Transition Coaches to be sure the survivors are carefully looked after.

We just love seeing slavery survivors face the pool with courage and enjoying the feeling of freedom swimming gives them!

Written by: Pareena Khubani (Freedom Hub Intern)

The Freedom Hub Survivor School is the only LONG-TERM, wrap-around care and support for survivors of modern slavery in Australia. We currently support around 70 survivors. However, we would like to be able to support the thousands of survivors in Australia that need us. 

Without our community of businesses and donors, we could not do this, and we want to keep growing so we can help many, many more.

Thank you for your part in this.

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Other blogs you might enjoy:

Three things I learnt about Modern Slavery

Survivor News September 2020 Recap