Meet a member at a distance – Willem

I generally train on Mondays at Crystal Palace and Saturdays at Dulwich. I joined Spencer in October 2015. I don’t have a swimming background and didn’t compete as a child. Before Spencer, I used to swim freestyle a few times a week by myself until I was lucky to be introduced to the club by Sara. Since then I’ve loved learning all the strokes and improving every year.

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

I’m based in West Dulwich, London. I isolated on my own, following government guidance, exercising one hour a day and leaving the house just for shopping. I’ve had regular visits/stays from my two teenage kids; my eldest lives in Spain and haven’t seen her since February, can’t wait to see her and my parents and brother in August.

How have you coped with the break from training?

The huge void left by swimming is irreplaceable. I’ve dreamt about swimming and have been day-dreaming about it too! I miss it dearly.

I’ve gone back to running and cycling a bit. It’s also been a good opportunity to reflect and do other things: I’m a classically trained guitarist and have been able to go back to my guitar after many years of not playing, it’s such a joy.

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

I recently purchased a wetsuit, after getting incredibly helpful advice from fellow swimmers. I swam 41’ at Southbourne beach on Saturday 30 May and 48’ at Friars Cliff beach the day after. It was my first swim since March. The Saturday swim was exciting, it gave me a good idea of what is like to swim with a wetsuit: buoyancy is unreal and there’s still a bit of a shock with the cold water, I found kicking a lot easier too.

Sunday’s swim was a lot more enjoyable, I knew exactly what to expect and really loved it, even though the sea was quite choppy. I’m from San Sebastián, Basque Country, and learnt to swim in the sea, I’m used to not perfect sea conditions!

I encourage others to go open water swimming, it’s a great feeling. Do it safely with a fellow swimmer if unsure.

Do you have a daily fitness routine?

When isolation began I started running and also tried Steve’s gut busters. Unfortunately the burpees, which I did for my first time, affected my lower back and was out of action for a couple of weeks. Then I got an acute uveitis (inflammation of the eye) which meant I couldn’t do anything for another couple of weeks!

I’ve finally managed to get into the following routine most days: get up just before 6am, stretch/mobility, short run (between 17’-25’), then Steve’s workout (replacing burpees with something else) or a different workout.

Which competitions have you missed/will you miss?

I don’t compete with the exception of a couple of events which I will miss this year: the Tooting Bec’s Fabulous Midsummer Relay in June, which I’ve done the past two years (we won both); and the Oxford Classic Mile Swim in September, which I did for the first time last year and was looking forward to doing this one too; I will also miss a 3k open water swim back home in San Sebastián in August.

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

I’m looking forward to grabbing my swim bag and heading to the pool knowing I’m going to see everyone. We’re going to gather around the pool, listen to Steve’s session plan, endure his bad jokes, and have a bit of banter in between sets!

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

I’m going to go to the sea as much as I can, and perhaps even lakes. And I know once I’m back home in August, I will swim in the sea every single day, without a wetsuit for sure!

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