To Give It Up, or to Give It My All, That Is the Question (Part 1)
I would like to share quite a personal but life changing subject. This will come as no surprise; the entire topic is based around swimming!
The entire Female Coaching Network is amazing, reading everyone’s blogs, experiences and being able to see so much of myself and what I want for myself in others writing has quite an impact. In September this year I will be starting my Master in Sport, Physical Activity and Mental Health. Combining this with what I am about to share, I hope that even on the smallest level my story could have an impact on someone else, somewhere in the world who thinks giving up is the only option.
Going back to my coaching Story I shared a while back I have been fortunate enough to coach with amazing clubs, other coaches and gain some outstanding life experiences, however this has come in peaks and troughs. This is quite a long story but I think as coaches it is so important to share a FULL story than just the successful bit or the bits we think are the “best”.
At the time of coaching with Stockport Metro little did my colleagues, who were very good friends know, that I was slowly destroying myself and potentially my career. Around 2015 I had a heart operation to regulate my heartbeat. Apparently its very common in young teenagers and sports people causing extra electrical pathways to develop and cause a rapid heart rate called Supra Ventricular Tachycardia. Beta blockers didn’t work so I had the operation and it was deemed successful. I was training with my local swimming club and began running competitively.
It is only on reflection I wonder how my coaches didn’t see what was wrong, as a coach myself I am very conscious of watching my swimmers closely. I would never forgive myself if something detrimental happened to a swimmer I should have cared for. Coaching, swimming and running naturally takes up all of your time but I loved it! But this love turned into obsession, my weight dropped to two stone underweight, and I gave every waking hour to my sport. There were several time I had to sit down to coach brushing it off as being too hot on pool side.
Even though I was slowly destroying myself through obsession with eating, swimming, running and coaching I didn’t see it, but I could see it in one of my swimmers. With my “coaches head” on I could see that I had to intervene to help a swimmer who was effectively a younger version of myself.
Skipping on a couple of years, that swiftly changed when I broke my leg and couldn’t do anything for almost a year! During this year little health niggles came and went. My heart didn’t feel right but I was told it was my blood pressure. My joints hurt but was told it was just my Lupus flaring up which is an immune system disease I was diagnosed with when I was 13. The endless emergency admissions to A and E were deemed to be a combination of my blood pressure and being exhausted, I would persistently drop to the floor and stay unconscious for up to an hour.
Nothing more came of it, I took medication to increase my blood pressure, graduated from University and moved to Shanghai to coach for a year. Coming to the end of my contract in June 2012, Shanghai is outrageously hot and humid, everyone was tired at the end of the school year so I put “feeling a bit off” down to that. Waking up in an American hospital ICU almost 24 hours later I was told I had had consecutive seizures for over 2 hours and had been sedated. I like to blame my “no excuses” attitude from coaching and swimming for my response to the events and those that were to unfold. I took the medication given to me, ignored everything else the Doctors told me and stayed in China for the next two weeks before flying home.
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.