Saxon Crown Masters swimmer Kelly Stephen lets us in on why she converted to swimming from running, her love of competition, and her aims for her first European Championships at London 2016.
Everything happens for a reason
I think it was Marilyn Monroe who once said “good things fall apart so better things can fall together”. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
In the beginning I was a runner, and I ran regularly for Kent AC. Now I realise that sounds pretty impressive, but the club is open to all abilities, and I was certainly a straggler at the back.
But I really enjoyed it. And most of all I loved to compete.
There was something addictive about the chase, the endorphins and the feeling of pushing your body to the absolute limit.
I ran for about six years until the impact started to take its toll. I developed a benign, but painful tumour in my right foot and chronic heel pain. I felt broken.
I toyed with joining a swimming club for several months, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2013 when I finally decided to join Saxon Crown Masters, based in Lewisham. And it’s genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I’m not saying I’m a good swimmer either. But I give it a fair bash!
My next adventure: London 2016
Possibly my favourite thing about swimming is how it can take you to interesting places. I’ve now swam in most London ponds and lidos, tried sea swimming and last year we ventured to Barcelona for some warm weather training.
My next adventure is the 2016 European Championships. I say adventure because I’ve got a bit of a journey ahead. I’ve entered the 50m Breaststroke and 50m Freestyle.
Now breaststroke is my thing. Essentially I’m a one stroke wonder, and consequently I’m okay at it. The problem is at the start of the race – I can’t dive for toffee.
So how am I planning to do it? Well a starter for 10 would be to learn how to dive. I’m also hoping to build on my existing level of fitness.
I already embark on a fair amount of land training – each week I’ll (attempt to) attend two spin classes, two weights classes and two Pilates classes, on top of a few sets of swimming. How to fit it all in? I get up at 05:30am (most mornings).
At the end of 2015 I was honoured to be asked to be team captain for Masters (more for being good at admin as opposed to swimming), which means I now have the opportunity to shape how we train up until the competition a little. I’ve already introduced monthly time trials and plan to have a series of sets in a 50m pool.
Despite feeling a little apprehensive, I am nervously excited about the Championships. Admittedly an extra six months of training wouldn’t have gone amiss, but I’m sure as hell going to give them a damn good go!