My personal background in swimming is quite unique. I trained and competed with the same club for years until I was 12 and got glandular fever just like loads of teenagers my age, but this lead to a spiral of ill health and a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus. My joints were the culprit of my initial drop out from swimming. I tried, on several occasions, to get back to swimming but when you have become unfit and are trying to use swollen painful joints it is very disheartening. This is going back 15 years where coaching was one size fits all, if you can’t keep up, tough! Coaching then was very different than it is now. “What is the point? I can’t do it, I hate it, what is the point in trying?!””
As my initial blog explains, my journey through swimming and coaching has been exciting. It has been long, at times horrific and yet so beneficial. I learn best when I am given the time to really focus on what I am doing, whether that takes 2 weeks, 2 years or 20 years. After heart surgery and an epilepsy diagnoses I am back training and competing. I swim 5 times a week and do gym sessions 2 or 3 times a week. I have been a coach and am now being coached. Many people think I am insane after what my body has been through and numerous times a particular conversation crops up,
“I can’t, sorry. I’ve got training”
And again the same question;
“What is the point, don’t you get bored? I mean it’s not like you are going to the Olympics or anything!”
How many of us have had this conversation? Not just in swimming but in any sport or any activity we participate in regularly. Recently I was asked “So if you aren’t going to be, like, in the Olympics or anything, what’s the point?”
Is that really the be all and end all!?
The point is a shear love of the sport, it is engrained in me. I spend more time at the pool or in the gym with the same group of friends or, as we refer to ourselves, our swimming family than I do with my own family.
It is important, at ANY level to take stock. Think about what you have done, what you are going achieve and what you are going to do to get there.
The point is;
Do you love swimming?
Do you want to swim?
What would you be doing if you didn’t swim?
What is it about swimming that makes you get in that pool when everyone else is doing something else?
The same goes for coaching.
What’s the point when those kids aren’t even going to “make it”?
Why would you give up “family time” or long mornings, evenings and weekends to watch kids go up and down in lines?
Hindsight can be a wonderful thing. I look back and remember many, many times thinking “what’s the point?” as both a swimmer and a coach. It is only now I can look back and then look forwards up that swimming lane and the same black line I follow for every training session and think; that was the point.
As a coach I watched those children leave the pool stood up tall with a head held high, that is why! That is the point!
As a swimmer I leave that pool stood up tall with my head held high and think at what I have done. I am my own worst critic thinking “that wasn’t good enough” “if I had just done that” but again that is the point in getting back in the pool the next night and many more after that.
The point being that I am a swimmer and swimming is me.
Bio: I have been swimming since I was 3 years old, training with a competitive club since I was 5 and first raced at the age of 6. I am passionate about swimming and it has been the focus of most of my life. Having gained my Level 1 and 2 teaching certificates I studied at the University of Gloucestershire from which I hold a BSc in Sports Science and Coaching. I have coached mainstream and disability squads with both Gloucester City Swimming Club and Stockport Metro prior to and during my time at University. After I finished my BSc I spent a year coaching swimming at the Shanghai REGO International School I returned to competitive swimming in October 2015 where I now train within the Masters program under Harry Needs at Stockport Metro swimming Club. I compete in masters events across the country and am aiming t5o compete in next year’s World Championships in Budapest. As of September 2016 I will be studying for an MSc in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health. My ambition is to able to write and publish works in this area of sport particularly with a swimming focus of parents, coaches and swimmers alike.