The Masters Hub continues to look deeper into the lives and personalities at the heart of the UK Masters community through our ‘Beneath The Surface’ feature.
Look out for video interviews as well as some fantastic underwater photos courtesy of GB Swimstars.
Our 11th feature is with Ilkley Masters Club swimmer and designer radiator supplier James Barwick who was an age group swimmer then returned to the sport as a Masters swimmer to regain his fitness.
What is your background in swimming?
I swam from about four right up until about 24 then I gave up swimming for a few years and came back to it in January last year.
Why did you return to the sport as a Masters swimmer?
Initially it was for my fitness and to lose weight. After a few years of neglect, I thought it was about time to get fit again! So I got back into it and started competing again and it went from there really.
Was it long before you noticed a significant improvement in your fitness?
There were a few hard months to start with where I found it really, really hard work. But that was what I expected. But taking from where I was a year ago to where I am now, there’s a huge difference and I can hopefully keep that going in the future.
How often do you train?
I train three times a week with Ilkley and one or two sessions here and there with East Leeds as well. It wasn’t that important to start with because I only went back for fitness but I was asked if I wanted to do the County Championships and I caught the bug from there really.
Is it difficult fitting training around your work?
No, there are later evening sessions so I’ve got work out of the way by then. I do a fair bit of gym work as well to compliment the swimming but it’s all starting at 7:45 or 8 in the evening.
That’s what I wanted from Masters swimming as well – the flexibility to enjoy my life and for it to not impact on my work but to still be able to swim regularly and improve my fitness. It’s the best of both worlds.
How do you spend your time when you aren’t in the pool?
I work for a company that supplies designer radiators. We do everything from traditional cast iron to totally bespoke products. We supply to the public and to trade and have even supplied radiators to a few stars, The Queen Vic and Salon on Eastenders and the upcoming Bond film!
We have even supplied radiators to a few stars, The Queen Vic and Salon on Eastenders and the upcoming Bond film!
The majority of the rest of my time is spent with my 4-year old daughter or walking my two westies. I’m a devout Arsenal fan and do enjoy watching the Rugby Union Premiership or England playing, and now the Rugby Challenge Cup as I think my time in the North is rubbing off on me!
What are your favourite events?
50, 100, 200m Freestyle. It’s been the same since I was about 13 as I’m utterly useless at breaststroke (stupid stroke), I can’t do a competitive backcrawl start to save my life and who enjoys fly training?!
Although I did have some good fly times as a junior and last year in my first season back swimming I won the 50m Fly at the Yorkshire County Championships and North West Regional Championships.
What are your best achievements in swimming?
As an age group swimmer, I was Midland District champion in the 50m Free and Fly. I was also second with my team in the 17/18 Yrs 4x50m Free Relay at the 2000 Nationals.
What do I hate about swimming? Breaststroke or anything involved with breaststroke… so IM!
As a Masters swimmer, winning the 50m Free/Fly double at the Yorkshire County Masters Championships last year in my first Masters competition since returning to the sport in January.
What do you love about swimming?
The chance to challenge myself physically and technically through the training and racing. Also all the friends you meet make and meet along the way. Going to Nationals this year, seeing people I’d not seen in 10 to 15 years and carrying on as if the time had never passed.
What do you hate about swimming?
Breaststroke or anything involved with breaststroke… so IM!
What are you most proud of in the pool?
The relay silver medal from 2000 as we’d gone in seeded 12th and it was a great group of friends who really swam for each other.
What are you most proud of out of the water?
My daughter, followed by my degree.
- Click here to find out how you can get involved with Masters swimming.