OLYMPIC medallist Michael Jamieson is to launch Glasgow’s first swimming academy to “give something back” to the city that supported him through the highs and lows of his competitive career.

The retired swimmer, who won silver at the 2012 Olympics, will launch the self-funded venture on September 15, to give every baby, child and adult in the West of Scotland the opportunity to learn to swim “at an honest price." Learners and sports stars of the future will have access to world-class coaches, hand-picked by Jamieson himself.

He hopes the new venture will help foster a love of the sport and potentially identify future talent and also help children use the tools of sport to develop “emotional fitness” and the mental resilience to cope with life’s darker moments.

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Jamieson, whose father also Michael, played football for Albion Rovers, Alloa Athletic and Stenhousemuir in the 1980s, has spoken publicly about how the pressures of competitive swimming led him to develop depression. He has said he contemplated suicide when suffered an injury and was unable to compete.

“I felt a sense of responsibility to give something back to a community that supported me so well throughout my competitive career,” he says.

“I really believe we need to be building the emotional fitness of young people.We want to benefit from the (positive) behaviours sport teaches us.

“Resilience comes through finding and developing skills to firstly endure, before overcoming a challenging situation.

“This is the message we try to convey at the Swim Academy, helped by some challenging personal experiences I had in sport."

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Jamieson’s competitive career began with lessons at All Saints School, Barmulloch, He then swam at the Glasgow School of Sport at Bellahouston Academy and the City of Glasgow Swim Team, before beginning his club journey at Scotia in Bishopbriggs.

He went on to enjoy a professional career travelling the world and competing and winning medals at every level of international

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competition – the highlight, winning silver in the men’s 200-metre breaststroke at the London 2012 Games.

It was after this triumph that Jamieson says his mental health deteriorated, becoming “uncontrollable” after he suffered an injury and missed training for four weeks. He sought help from his GP after he started to have thoughts about a “way out”.

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Does he believe we need to do more to safeguard the mental health of elite athletes?

“We do, but we are,” he says.

“We don’t do enough to harness the positive behaviours elite sport teaches us – we analyse the performance too much and very few athletes are present enough in their environment to truly enjoy the immense privilege it is to be a professional athlete.

“We all work hard, we are all looking for purpose and content in our lives, the more open we can be about our experiences, the more positive messages we can relay to the kids coming next.”

Swimming Academy lessons will be available at four venues, including St Roch’s Secondary and Govan High School, Glasgow, as well as pools in Hamilton and Clydebank and more locations are planned. Learners will benefit from small group sizes with one instructor for four swimmers.

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Jamieson, who splits his time between Glasgow and London, says: “The content of our sessions needs to be engaging and inclusive to build the purpose of learn to swim from a life skill, to a hobby, to a passion.

“I believe with our model and our team, we are offering something different; we offer a full pathway from babies and toddler through to pre club level swimming, along with adult lessons and HIIT classes, which are combining high intensity swim-based efforts with functional body weight training on the poolside.

“We’re lucky to have like minded partners in Glasgow that are committed to supporting the sport in the community and I’m excited about building

a strong partnership together to match the ambition of Glasgow in changing our very dire health and exercise statistics.”

Baby and toddler sessions are priced £90 for a 10-week block. To book go to https://mjswimacademy.com/