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Beneath The Surface Of Masters: Gemma Wright and Sarah Speers

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 ninth feature is with Masters synchronised swimmers Gemma Wright and Sarah Speers who train together at City of Leeds.

What is your background in synchronised swimming?

GW: I started synchronised swimming when I was 10 years old, competed through university and coached from about 17. The opportunity to have a duet partner this year was just too good to miss. It gave me a good reason to get to the gym and the pool and it’s something I really enjoy.

SS: I started off as a speed swimmer but I wasn’t very competitive. It happened to be that they were doing synchro at my local swimming pool so I went along and had a try. I also did dance and enjoyed that so I found that synchro combined the two skills in the water and I just fell in love with the sport.

Has your lifestyle changed much since training as a Masters synchro swimmer?

GW: It gives me a lot of focus in terms of making sure I do get to the gym and keep fit. It’s helped me lose quite a bit of weight over the last year so that’s been really helpful. It’s hard fitting it in with work and coaching but it’s made a big difference in my health and wellbeing.

How often do you train?

GW: I train once a week with Sarah so we get together in local pool sessions and then I normally go to the gym two or three times a week and try and do another swimming session on top of that.

What’s it like working towards your routines?

SS: It was really fun choreographing our duet. We could just have fun and do things that we thought we would enjoy. We didn’t have to worry so much about it. Obviously you want to compete and do well but it was more about having a good time and putting on the best performance that we could.

What are the benefits of being a Masters synchro swimmer?

GW: The main benefits for me are the enjoyment, the fun and the friendship really. It takes up quite a bit of time learning and choreographing routines. But when you do a really great swim at a competition, it’s totally worth the time and effort. I think the biggest benefit is the friendship and the fun you have and just getting fit again.

What difference does the training make to your overall fitness?

SS: If you train a couple of times a week, you’ll definitely find an improvement in your lung capacity. You do a lot of breath holding when you’re upside down underwater. There’s also the flexibility that you gain and the strength because you have to develop a lot of strength in your arms, legs and core to be able to hold the positions that we do.

Are there Masters synchro clubs for beginners who can just train and not compete?

SS: There are more and more people becoming interested and it’s definitely something that we’re trying to set up in Leeds. Get in touch with your local club and they’ll probably know a session or somewhere to find out more information.

  • Click here to find out how you can get involved with Masters synchro.