Meet a member at a distance – Vitor

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

I am based in East Dulwich, where I have been enjoying some moments of quietness and contemplation whilst lockdown was observed more rigorously by everyone else – being asked to stay at home and cut off social contact appealed to the introvert in me đŸ˜… . With that said, it’s not like this was a period of respite for me anyway as I continued to go into work during this period, as I work in a hospital. This was enough to help me keep a sense of regularity to daily life, as things were definitely different during this period at work though. One could sense a different atmosphere in the air, just by stepping into a hospital.

How have you coped with the break from training?

I think I coped well, even though I really miss being in the water. I think that’s where I find my balance and equilibrium, and I miss that feeling of my body, fingers, hands and arms gliding through water. But I am also missing hiking, and going for trips where I just walked and there were no other worries in the world for a while. Both are good to reduce my anxieties

Like everyone else, I think, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. There was a phase where I was putting on weight, then where I lost lots of weight, then moments where I felt like getting really active, as well as other moments where a sloth would have been proud of me. And of course, moments where I felt excited, and others where I was feeling a bit more uncertain. It’s life

Having a bike really helped me to get through this period. I was cycling every single day early in the lockdown, enjoying going up and down the hill around the Crystal Palace area (and over time, and with the relaxing of restrictions, to places further away). It was also a good opportunity to go for really long walks and go through alleys and corners that I would usually ignore. But that was mostly leg work. I struggled and couldn’t find anything that could exercise the upper body as naturally as getting on to a bike for exercising the legs đŸ˜ž.

Having all sorts of plans and things I could work on and getting distracted also helped, to keep me motivated. I started doing yoga, then I gave up. I tried to do home workouts, then I gave up. I tried a few guided mindfulness sessions, and the handful of times I did them they were good, it might even be something I will continue doing from time to time

I was definitely happy having ample time to go through a photography course I had started a while ago, and getting more confident and comfortable using manual mode on camera. It was also a good time to catch up with all the books I have on my “to read” list (ongoing process), but I didn’t make things easy by ordering more books early in the lockdown
. Mostly, I have been busy, or distracted. Ohhhh, and I am growing my hair đŸ˜…

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

Hmmmm, it was disappointing that Brockwell lido was closed, as that would have been very convenient for me during this period (it appeals to my lazy side 😅). So, I have to say no. I haven’t been in the water for swimming
 until this week. I had read from other Spencer members that they were able to do open water swimming, so along with curiosity and some natural envy (as in “Oohhh, I also wanted to be in the water doing that”), I tried to understand how to make swimming happen again. Initially there was resistance. I wasn’t that keen on going for open water swimming with my surf wetsuit, but after I realized I was just making excuses, I booked myself in for an afternoon slot at the London Royal Docks. And it was great!!! That feeling of breaking into the water, and my body moving in the water is fantastic. I can’t say much about actually swimming, as my form was poor for freestyle and again the surf wetsuit, but I did spend a good amount of time in there, even running into the next time slot😅

But before the swimming, and on my walks, I also came across a place where I could do standup paddling, and I imagined, also open water swimming (which turned out to be accurate, but I haven’t tried it there yet). I got really excited about standup paddling, as I had been looking for ages for a convenient place to do it nearby, as I think it is great to work on my balance. It just doesn’t fully count as me getting back into the water because I did not fall off the board

Do you have a daily fitness routine?

No. I am lazy.

I thought about developing a routine earlier, but I quickly gave up. It never really got me excited, whereas going for bike runs around the place (particularly with empty roads) was so much more enjoyable and engaging, particularly being able to cycle to places and then take photos. 

Having said that, I can proudly say I completed the “Virtual summer series – I”, challenge of the summer, for which I received a certificate. It made me feel really good and happy that I could finish something. It was the right mix of being challenging and appealing to my lazy side, as I was already regularly doing two of the four activities so I had the feeling that the challenge was completing itself without much effort

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

None. I am not a competitive person. Also, I don’t like to lose and I usually finish last. Because of that, and to reduce cognitive dissonance regarding my self-esteem vs competing and losing, it’s better to think that I am just swimming leisurely 
. 😅

I think I am a little unlike the average Spencer’s team member though. When I was little, and was having regular swimming lessons, the teacher did approach me to join the competitive team, for me to train more regularly and then compete with other clubs, etc… But I was just a kid, and when my father was asked, his decision was to say no. So I never came to fully develop my swimming potential, and a healthy competitive attitude, I guess. Nonetheless, I did continue having swimming lessons throughout adolescence, and on my own afterwards. That has become a regular activity that I don’t like to live without for prolonged periods. I am enthusiastic about it, just not competitive enough to keep up with someone who has been doing it competitively for years. Again, losing sucks, and at this stage, being lazy is just taking the best out of me :/

I would like to say I can consider myself entering some competitions
 but that’s mostly a distant future thought. With me, it can take a little bit of time from having an idea about doing something, and then actually doing something about it. But I also wouldn’t know where to start. Again, lazy
. 😕😅

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

Firstly, getting into the water. At this stage, getting into a swimming pool will be just enough for me, the feeling of getting and being in the water. Then, gliding through water and feeling my fingers running through water. At some point, doing all the strokes, and a personal objective is to continue to develop and work on my freestyle technique. Years of being lazy whilst swimming on my own and without coaching, made me take my eye off how poor my freestyle form was, and unless for very intense short sprints, I stopped experiencing that natural connection of arm and leg kicking for freestyle. This means I mostly swim freestyle with arm pulling and residual leg kicking. I need to master the lazy side of me that says that the better my leg kicking for freestyle gets, the less heavy the session will be for my arms and the longer the distances I can swim without getting tired 😅

Any plans for Open Water training over the summer?

I don’t know about training, but plans to go in the water for open water swimming, yes. Definitely. That was actually one of the reasons why I joined Spencer swimming club. To be more comfortable with longer distances without getting as tired. 
Open water swimming has been a “goal” of mine for years now, though I haven’t actually done it many times since I first tried it with a friend in the Lake district. At the time, I did it for the fun of it, and I did enjoy the freedom to swim 360Âș. Nonetheless, I do get concerned about getting my feet getting trapped by kelp that could wrap me and take me to the bottom of the lake, or somehow I stop kicking because I am tired and then I sink to the bottom of a lake and I have no idea of how deep it is
. 😒

Vitor contemplates a swim while hiking in Chamonix

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