Meet a member – Holly

Holly only joined Spencer last November but is already a keen member of the club, training in the pool up to three times a week as her time allows.  Her real passion, however, is open water swimming.  Whilst perhaps not having the traditional build of a cold water swimmer, she swam at Tooting Lido throughout the winter, and describes jumping in freezing water as being the most amazing adrenaline rush!  She also enjoys the camaraderie of swimming, both at Spencer and at Tooting.

Holly swam as a child, but stopped swimming as a teenager.  Her route back to swimming has not been straightforward.  In her 20s she fractured her back, spending some time in Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries hospital and then in a back brace.  She lost so much core muscle strength that even sitting up straight was tiring.  She started to swim again to build up her strength, and to provide a focus decided to sign up to swim 5k from Portsmouth the Isle of Wight.  She swam across the Solent in 1 hour 9 minutes, and for obvious reasons used the swim to raise money for a spinal injuries charity.  Holly’s love of open water swimming was born.

Holly works for a sustainability consultancy, which works with businesses on climate change and human rights issues.  One such issue that Holly feels strongly about is the plight of the West Papuan people, who she says have been the victims of gross human rights violation and slow-motion genocide since the 1960s.  Last summer Holly swam the length of Lake Geneva (70km) as part of a relay team, swimming to campaign for a free and fair independence referendum for the West Papuan people (see for more details).  One of her favourite memories of that swim was seeing one of her teammates swim headfirst into an enormous dead fish – the teammate did not find it quite as funny as Holly did.

This year she enjoyed the 10k Jubilee river swim, although coach Steve will not let her forget the fact that he beat her (although Georgie and Lisa beat Steve….) In the pool she is working on her 25m and 50m free.   “I either like very short distance or very long distance. Anything in-between I seem to pace wrong!”  She is also a keen netball player.

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