13/02/2015 03:20 GMT | Updated 14/04/2015 06:59 BST

#ThisGirlCan Convinced Me to Have a Swimming Lesson, Aged 23 and a Half

Yesterday I went swimming. I swam a length without stopping and I went under the water a couple of times.

For most, this event wouldn't be worth mentioning. But for me, it was a Big Deal.

Because I, Rachel Moss, the stubborn girl who hates being the worst at ANYTHING...am a truly terrible swimmer.

It's not like I can't swim at all, but I think this comment from my boyfriend sums up the extent of my ability: "If we were in a shipwreck, there's no way you'd survive, is there really?"

Yep, my swimming (if you can call it that) is pretty dire.

I've hated the water for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is going to a toddler's swimming class and being absolutely petrified. They made us jump in, I cried a lot and refused, point blank, to ever go back.

(Told you I was stubborn).

As a kid, with some gentle encouragement from my parents and sister I mastered the art of not drowning. But when I hit my teenage years my hatred of swimming returned, setting back my already limited skills.

In year 7, swimming classes were a compulsory part of PE at my school. After the first class, a group of girls approached me in the changing room.

"Oh my god, do you not eat?" one said.

"Seriously though, are you anorexic," added another.

Thankfully, I've never had an eating disorder - I just happened to be a very slim teenager. But those comments added a whole new body conscious layer to my hatred of the pool. I did my best to avoid all other swimming lessons throughout secondary school - fake notes, forgotten kit, the lot.

Needless to say, when I had to do a swim test for a job aged 20, it was not fun.

I was hired as a dance teacher at an American summer camp, but all members of staff had to swim a few lengths to prove they wouldn't drown on site. As I flapped about in the water, the other members of staff cheered me on from the sides - I passed, but it was seriously embarrassing and made me realise I needed to work on my swimming ability.

Yet when I got back in the UK, I avoided local pools once again. I worried everyone was going to look at me, laugh at how shit I was at swimming and worse, how skinny I looked in a bikini.

So what made me finally get in the pool?

Sport England's This Girl Can campaign.

As soon as I saw the campaign images I could relate. When I swim, I don't look like the women you see in sportswear adverts - I look like a cat who's fallen into a pond. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to get better.

So I asked my boyfriend - who happens to be a very confident swimmer - to give me a lesson.

First he got me to hold on to the edge while I worked on my wonky kick. Then he stayed by my side while I went under water, building up my confidence so that after an hour, I was able to touch the bottom of the pool with my hand without freaking out.

I'll never be Rebecca Adlington, but by the end of my mini-lesson I felt like I'd made some real progress.

And when I got out the pool, a woman even said she liked my swimming cossie - result!

This Girl Can has helped me to realise that I'm not the only one who feels self-conscious when I exercise. I can't praise the campaign enough for highlighting the fact that women of all shapes, sizes and abilities really can do sport, we just need to have a little faith in ourselves.