Meet a member out of lock down in Guernsey – Esther

Esther is current World Champion for 100 and 200 breast, and will be retaining her titles for an extra year, as the next World Championships have moved to 2022.

“I am Swiss and an out of towner living and training in the Channel Islands, Guernsey St. Peter Port, working in the finance sector. Usually I am doing meets all over the world, most of the time swimming with my Spencer teammates, especially helping in relays. I am swimming at least for 40 years on a daily basis, max out of the water 2-3 days…

Can you remember your last swim session?

We expected that something might happen here as well (of course hoping not…) Last swim was  March 20. On purpose we put a lot of training into these last 2 weeks. I actually swam lunchtime and evenings. So when the lockdown came it was good to have sort of a break. The reason behind was just to be able to swim as much as possible before the shutdown not knowing how long the closing would be.

How have you coped with the break from training / staying at home?

LuckIly I was able to work fully from home, which worked well. There was no disruption. Besides not being able to swim on a daily basis, which was mentally challenging, I felt very isolated and lonely. As none of us have ever experienced anything like this it became a survival drill. We needed to find a way to stay put and just wait for the storm to be over. Good life experience though for everybody, not that I wished to get this experience.

What did you miss most? 

I missed the personal contact; speaking over the phone was different. And of course not being able to swim was extra pressure. The Leisure Centre is a part of my personal life and so is work, not seeing anybody at all was hard especially in the first 6 weeks. Things were getting bad worldwide and there was no end in sight. 

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

Guernsey has done very well controlling the situation with track and trace. We have literally eliminated the virus and as long as our borders are closed (planned NOT to be open before fall) we can now move freely around. The pool opened on June 4 with hourly bookings and it is great as not many people are going swimming. Together with my training partner, Angie, we have pretty much our own lanes which is great. 

It was sensational to jump in the water but also scary being so out of shape. I have never been in this stage. Feeling not connected with the water, not relaxed and smooth, the body being tight and hard. All swimmers worldwide will be hurt tremendously, unfortunately… And for sure we need to start very slowly adjusting the body again to the water. Back daily in the water for nearly 10 days, I must admit it will take months to recover. And for sure it will be even harder on the ‘older’ Masters community.

Did you have a daily fitness routine?

I designed quite a tough fitness regime borrowing before lockdown a ‘little’ trampoline to be able to do cardio. I did not want to run or doing something very static and ruining or hurting my joints. Trampoline jumping has very low impact on the joints. And you can easy bring up the pulse. Plus I did lots of yoga sessions. Plus added stretch cords, abs and core strength. All these activities I I switched around daily to make it different. Also I went for 30min evening fast walks. This added up about 90min on a daily basis over the last 10 ½ weeks. I definitely kept the fitness but I am a believer that for swimming there is no substitution – you have to do the work IN THE WATER…

Which competitions have you missed/will you miss?

As I had my two good years, I am not really into big competitions for the next two years except the usual like Guernsey Masters Meet in March, GB long course in April, GB short course in October, plus planned some competitions in the UK. Not going to competition for me was not a problem.

Any plans for open water swimming or racing over the summer?

Would definitely love to do open water but here in Guernsey the sea is freezing cold, it will never go to my 22C limit, below this temperature I am not willing to jump in. In March it was still 9C and now in June it is about 14C…

On a personal note swimmers are all in the same boat, now when this is over we need to be disciplined and ’swim’ up the ladder and eventually reach the stage where we have been before. Fitness is going away within short time therefore count on your technique, which is not going away. It will be a long way but with a bit faith we ALL can make it back. I find the swimming community is a tough ‘breed’ and we surely have the strength to overcome these very strange times no matter how long we have to wait.

Remember what does not kill you makes you strong 🙂 Keep swimming whenever you can!


Leave a Reply