Meet a member at a distance – Karen

I am an out-of-towner who joined Spencer at the beginning of 2020 following personal recommendations from a couple of you 🙂  My competitive swimming career began in the 1970s at my local club in Sheffield and I competed (on and off) from age 10 through to leaving university.   I continued to swim for pleasure for the next 20 or so years and finally plucked up the courage to join a Masters’ club in 2011.  This was a shock to the system as I adapted to the rigours and etiquette of club swimming but I started to enter a few competitions and my confidence increased along the way. The biggest surprise was discovering that I now enjoy distance freestyle and can even be found swimming a 400IM just for fun too 🙂

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

I live in Wokingham with my husband and we’ve both been busy working from home throughout lockdown.  I work in human resources and had only started a new job in January so it really has been in at the deep end with the ever changing employment legislation and challenges presented by Covid-19. We have self-isolated as far as possible and manage to do most of our shopping on-line.  As the restrictions have started to ease a little we’ve had friends round in the garden and we were able to celebrate my birthday and our wedding anniversary with cake and a few drinks.

How have you coped with the break from training?

Not very well as I am definitely a water baby not a land mammal!!  During the last few years I’ve had several stints where I couldn’t swim due to injuries/surgery and I found that very difficult. For me it’s the uplifting feeling of mental and physical well-being that I get from being in water.

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

I signed up for open water swims as soon as the local lakes opened, despite having limited open water experience. I’m lucky to have two lakes close by, namely Tri20 near Reading and Horseshoe Lake in Sandhurst.  Swimming continuously around a lake doesn’t phase me but I was a little nervous at first assuming that everyone else would be Olympic standard. Thankfully I soon discovered that this was not the case and I am actually doing just fine.  Funnily enough I had bought a new wetsuit (FINA approved of course!) in January ready for a team triathlon (cancelled) so it is now being put to good use. I really prefer swimming in skins but the snail parasites like eating me!

Do you have a daily fitness routine?

I am trying to do some form of exercise every day. Initially I took daily walks, which I found quite therapeutic. We’re lucky to have some green spaces close to home and I quickly discovered fields and woods that I didn’t know existed. The world looks very different on foot rather than whizzing by in a car.  Just before lockdown we managed to buy a rowing machine on-line and I was like a child at Christmas when it was finally delivered!  I have attempted some mat work but this is where my motivation fails (and I struggle with long standing injuries in my wrists and elbows).

How are you getting on with Steve’s gutbusters/virtual challenges

Ah yes…about that …sorry Steve! But I did enjoy being in the ‘Dream Team’ for the virtual medley relay.

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

I had been looking forward to Sheffield (both in April and October). As this is my first year with Spencer it would have been a great opportunity to get to know my new teammates. I already know some of you and I met many new faces at K2 in January but Sheffield is always a good weekend socially. I have also been a regular competitor at Norfolk Masters and GLLAM (which I am assuming will be cancelled). And let’s not forget the inaugural Inter Club Swimming Meet which was due to be held this month.

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

Suddenly finding that we were virtually housebound and together 24/7 was a bit of a shock.  But we have separate work areas and like to exercise independently so we’ve found a way of making it work.

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

Following the thick black line and the chance to swim the other three strokes again! Here’s some advice – don’t try fly whilst wearing a new wetsuit…….

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

I plan to continue with the lake swims all summer, whether or not the pools re-open.  I haven’t entered any competitions as I am wary that we may get a second wave of Covid-19 – although I really hope I am proved wrong. But looking ahead to next year I may try some open water competitions again and hopefully the team triathlon.

Any recommendations for team mates?

Carpe diem. Live like there’s no tomorrow, Love like you’ve never been hurt, Dance like no one’s watching.

I only signed up for Facebook back in February specifically so I could join the Spencer group . I am so glad that I did because it has been a lifeline for me. I love reading all the stories and posts and I’ve felt very welcomed and part of a community. Thank You Everyone!   Let’s hope it won’t be long before we’re all together again on the poolside.

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