Meet a member at a distance – Joe

Hey. I’m one of the newbies here at Spencer, having been swimming with the club for less than a year, and I’ve loved every minute of it. I joined the club looking for a masters squad that could offer plenty of pool time in the run up to what would have been an attempt to swim the channel this year (bizarrely I’m writing this on the day I was scheduled to be swimming!), but since joining I have loved the sessions and found the variety of knowledge and experience available from the coaching team invaluable. I normally make Mondays and Tuesdays at Crystal Palace, Saturdays at Dulwich and the odd Thursday thrown in.

Where are you based and what isolation approach have you followed? 

I live in East Dulwich with my girlfriend Neena, and we’ve tried to get the most out of lockdown by exploring the local area as much as we can. I’ve been in parks and woods around our house that I never knew existed – and don’t think I’d have ever discovered them if it hadn’t been for lockdown. I love cooking (well, more the eating), so have been perfecting different recipes. My fish tacos are now on point and I’ve finally conquered sourdough. Obviously there’s a trade-off when you can’t exercise as readily, so i’m glad to say that even though my swimming fitness is nowhere near ‘channel ready’ now, my  ….er…. cold water swimming physique is literally ready to roll. It’s all part of my dedication and commitment, coach, honest.🙂.

How have you coped with the break from training?

I’ve missed the routine. I’d got to the point where I wouldn’t make plans on Monday and Tuesday evenings as I knew I’d be training and didn’t want to miss it, and having a more rigid training plan made it much easier to commit. I was disappointed to see that pools haven’t been given the go ahead to open yet, especially the lidos where it’s surely easier to maintain distance than in a pub, and I think the mental benefits of having access to these facilities are being underestimated. That being said, you will 100% find me in a pub come the 4th July!

Have you managed to get back into the water yet? If so, how was it? Any recommendations?

I’ve just just got from the Spencer outdoor river swim. It was a really nice spot. Steve smashed it with the organisation, as ever although it’s the longest time I’ve been in the water since lockdown, so will feel it in the shoulders tomorrow! Previous to that- I went to the water park in Shepperton and the Royal Docks last week – both of which were delightful. I also made it to Serpentine when it opened but got eaten alive by duck mites. I didn’t even know that they were a thing, but I got a lovely collection of itchy bites that lasted for a week or so afterwards! 

Do you have a daily fitness routine?

I’ve heard that the key to lock-down fitness is to set a routine and I seem to have settled in to one quite nicely – I run for a week, get injured, swear not to run again, forget, then start all over again the week after. I should probably just give up, but I hate the fact I can’t perform one of the most basic functions we have as human beings!

How are you getting on with Steve’s gutbusters/new challenge?

The first time I tried the gutbusters I thought it was a practical joke. I’d made my way up to 20 reps and was overheating, gasping for breath and sweating out of my shins. I’m glad to say it got easier, but it was very tough. I’m enjoying the new challenge – my aim is to go sub-25mins. My current best is 26.10 and I really went for it on that, so I’ve got something to work towards. The threat of the pools opening and having to squeeze back into my trunks seems to be kick starting my motivation. There’s also a chance I could get a slot later in the year for the channel swim, so want to make sure I’m ready to up the training volume if and when the opportunities arise.

Any recommendations for team mates?

The Brick Brewery delivery service has been an absolute treat! It’s owned by fellow Spencerite Ian, and the beers are really, really good. I’ve had a few cases over lock down, telling myself that I’m doing my bit for local businesses, but really I just like the beer!The performance webinars that coach Jason has been doing are also well worth doing. They concentrate on the mental aspects of training and development and offer fascinating ways to improve and get the most out of the time we spend trying to get better. 

Which competitions have you missed/will you miss and how will that affect you?

I’m obviously disappointed about not being able to do the Channel just yet, but know that I’ll get a chance sometime this year, or worst case next June. Aside from that I’m looking forward to doing some competitions as soon as I’m able. I didn’t join to compete in pool galas, but am really looking forward to testing my progress and seeing how my times compare to when I was a teenager! My sister’s a masters swimmer too, and I like the idea of racing her in one of the mixed relay events. mainly because I know she’d hate it if I was in a faster team. Having said that she’s a Fina world record holder, so I’d have my work cut out and would definitely require some assistance from our speedier members.

How is your partner coping with you missing your regular training sessions?

She’s doing well. We’ve also found out we’re expecting our first baby in December this year so it’s a really exciting time. It’s been really nice to have the additional time to spend together. I’ve tried to be on best behaviour and doing my bits around the house, as apparently stress isn’t good for the baby. 🙂

What are you most looking forward to when you can get back to training?

Having calories in the bank! The best feeling is returning home from a big training session, slightly tired, aching and knowing you can eat pretty much whatever you want without fear of the pounds piling on!

Any plans for Open Water training or racing over the summer?

Hopefully – I’m going to play it by ear, but I’d love to fit a couple of events in before the end of the year. My boat pilot has said there’s a chance he could take me at the end of the season if it ends up being a warm summer, so a couple of events would give me something to work towards and ensure that I’m ready to go if the opportunity arises!

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