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How a bag of rice is helping record-breaker Gina keep fit during lockdown

Record-breaker Gina Heyn has revealed how a 10kg bag of rice has helped her keep fit during lockdown.

Gina is probably best known for her breaststroke and freestyle sprinting – and being a key member of Teddington Masters’ all-conquering relay and Decathlon squads.

However, living in a small London flat hasn’t really been conducive to training during the coronavirus lockdown.

At elite level, Gina trained eight or nine times a week in the pool until she was 27 years-old – and she’s generally swam twice a week for the eight years since then.

Good knowledge of coaching and a land-based exercises has proved to be invaluable now – with some inventive home circuits helping to keep her goals on track.

Before lockdown, Gina would do two hours of swimming a week, two hours in the gym using weights and one to two hours running and walking.

Here, Gina explains how she has coped without a trip to the pool.

Lockdown objectives

“I’m not too worried about being out of the pool as I’ve come back from long periods out in the past.

“I actually don’t miss swimming, but I do miss my teammates! When we go back, there shouldn’t be too much expectation, so maybe we’ll surprise ourselves when the pressure is reduced.

“I’ve had an imbalance affecting my right leg and it really impacted my swimming last year, so this is the perfect opportunity to correct it now.”

Lockdown training

“I generally do different exercises each day, adding and removing things as I go along and figuring out what works.

“It really depends on my motivation and how things are going. I’ve done a few workouts, like Caleb Dressel’s core work out, but there’s not much other information available about what the elite swimmers are actually doing.

“I do a lot of core and glute work as well as trying to do some swimming specific band work using a theraband and paddles.

“I work on catch and the pull through on all of the strokes for the amount of time it takes to play a couple of songs on my playlist. I tend to work in small chunks of time through the day and if I walk past my makeshift chin-up bar, I do a block of between four and six chin ups and aim to do 20 a day.

“I’m mostly using bits of equipment that I’ve had for years, and I’m quite worried that the bands might snap soon!

“As I’m not working, I am making do with things like a 10kg bag of rice and my swimming bag full of tins of food.

“I was trying to complete the distance that we would have travelled to Sheffield for the British Masters by walking and running 288km in 30 days, but I found it really tough!

“The parks in London are overcrowded and busy, so I use the A316 – it’s boring but it’s easier to avoid people.”

Progress to date

“At the start of lockdown, there were a few exercises I just could not do, but I’ve already seen some big improvements quite quickly on things like side planks.

“There are always things to improve on and I have goals that I’m working towards, like aiming for the British record on 400IM and helping Teddington do well in the Masters Decathlon.”