Meet a member in lock down in South Africa – Greg

Greg is British Record holder for the 45-49 age group long course 50, 100 and 200 back and 100 fly, plus the odd Spencer relay, and usually swims with us at the major long course meets. Looks like he is training for short course in his new age group….

“I am an out of towner based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. We have been in lockdown for 4 weeks now, and have 1 more week to go before our government starts to ease lockdown restrictions. Our lockdown started very early when we only had 218 cases countrywide and no deaths, it came as a shock to a lot of people who thought that it was a foreign problem and wouldnt affect them. The lockdown is pretty severe, with sales of alcohol and tobacco prohibited, as well as being told that we are not to leave our properties to walk our dogs or exercise..we may only leave our homes to shop for food, banking or to go to the pharmacy and doctor. All restaurants and takeaways are closed and department stores like Woolworths may only sell food – no prepared food, clothing, homeware or cosmetics…its a complete detox for us South Africans!

We currently stand on 3300 cases and 58 deaths and our peak in the virus is projected to be mid the Government has basically been buying time to get the Hospitals and medical facilities prepared before the inevitable avalanche hits.

Being out the water

I’m slightly ashamed to say that I have a 15m lap pool at home and have been using it quite a bit. I built the pool 5 years ago when I was working crazy hours and training for Kazan World Champs, since then I haven’t used it much as I’ve been training with squads or at gyms with longer pools. Over the years it has been a pain in the ass..keeping it heated in winter to keep the kids happy means running the heat pump 18 hours a day, keeping it filled with water during the drought, and the odd leak…but during lockdown it has been an absolute blessing and has been the savior in our household when the family needs to be socially distanced from each other!

Miss most?

To be honest as long as I have a pool I don’t miss a hell of a lot, I just miss seeing people around me in the pool, the backstroke flags and that mandatory coffee stop on the way home after training.

Daily fitness regime?

I generally try to get (drag!) my two boys (9+5) outdoors a few times a day, so we play a a bit of cricket, throw Frisbee or just go out for a walk, then late afternoon I can train guilt free while they have screen time. I’m swimming five or six times a week,between 3-5 km depending on whether I’m using my bungee cord for 8 sec sprints or just going aerobic to get some base miles in. My current mindset is to stay in shape so that when I eventually get to a longer pool I’ll be able to get back to proper training straight away…

I’m not really doing any killer sets as it seems pointless as I’ll probably only be able to race again in September.

A huge motivating factor to my training is seeing how much all of my swimming friends are missing the pool, I feel guilty not training when I have a I quite often throw myself in the pool when I don’t particularly feel like it.

Steve’s Gutbusters?

Sorry Steve I don’t do them, I figure 350 tumble turns a session is enough of a workout for my aging abs currently..


I doubt I can offer any advice to this group of athletes, if the avalanche of social media posts haven’t taught you to bench press your spouse or flatmate by now I can’t help…

One thing our family have tried to be more aware of is gratitude. It’s been sobering to see the economic impact of the lockdown on small businesses,especially the people that are part of our lives on a regular basis, our yoga teacher, massage therapist, the nail girl, swim Coach, our favorite baristas, our favorite take away restaurant and also the many unemployed people in the townships…so we’ve tried to buy vouchers where possible for future use and donate to feeding schemes.

We feel we have a lot to be grateful for so it’s only fair to try to help others in this crazy time.

Missed competitions?

For me swimming and traveling go hand in hand, I miss the planning of my trip to Swansea, Gwangju, London, Cape Town just as much, if not more than the swimming. I’ve finally come to terms with a one year staycation in South Africa.

Family coping?

My family are relieved that I can swim everyday because after being locked up together for 27 days they know how crazy I can become without exercise…

Most looking forward to?

I can’t wait to shake a friend’s hand without the fear of ending up on a ventilator in 14 days, I’m looking forward to date night again with my wife, I’m looking forward to some winning relays with the Dream Team Clive, Guy and Dan, and the Chippendales Jason, Jack and Ivan (and I still owe Esther a decent 200 free) and I’m really looking forward to my children going back to school after 4 months at home!

Stay safe everyone. Look forward to seeing you all on the other side.


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