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Masters swimmer Helen Davis paddling at home and keeping fit

Team Anglia Masters swimmer Helen Davis was hunting new opportunities in 2020.

She moved into the 50-54 age group with a very realistic chance of setting her first individual British record.

The breaststroke swimmer had been to an intensive training camp in Tenerife in January and was thriving off a new, more demanding schedule.

Coronavirus may have stopped her temporarily, but she is still focused on her goals at her home ‘training centre’ in Cambridge.

Helen is working from home as a sports psychologist and has produced a number of psychology resources for Swim England members to help them through this period out of the pool.

Husband Rob and their three grown up children are also at home. As a family of five that all love to swim, the Davis’ have joined the community of paddling pool swimmers.

Before lockdown, Helen usually did four or five one-hour swims per week alongside two gym sessions which involved swim-specific exercises and lifting.

Lockdown objectives

As a sports psychologist, Helen understands the benefit of focusing on what she can do, rather than what she can’t.

She said: “I’ve carried on the gym work, something that has been relatively new in last nine months.

“With two gym-loving boys in the house, we already had some equipment and we ordered some extra bits. We don’t have enough to continue the weights I was doing, so I’m not lifting as much as I was.

“My main concern was being able to do swimming-specific training, so as soon as a friend shared a video of someone training in a paddling pool, it became a bit of an obsession.

“The inflatable pool I ordered initially was only £33, but it really was too small, and we decided as a family to order a much larger one that we could all use.”

Lockdown training

Helen generally does a morning session before work and then swims each day for around 40 minutes in the afternoon.

She rides her commuter bike four or five times a week as a means to get outside.


  • Monday: Morning yoga
  • Tuesday: Cambridge Triathlon Club Pilates session via Zoom
  • Wednesday: Swim-specific core work and gym
  • Thursday: Cambridge Triathlon Club aerobic workout – including swim bands
  • Friday: Swim-specific core work and gym
  • Saturday: Hosts a swim-specific session for Cambridge Triathlon Club using bands and various swim specific strength exercises
  • Sunday: Recovery.

Progress to date

Helen said: “I genuinely look forward to swimming each day. I even enjoy the cold water, which I never thought I would.

“I feel very lucky to have the pool and the opportunity to work on technique. I’m learning to use a snorkel, which I’ve never liked.

“I feel like I’m being creative and sharing ideas with other people. I’m definitely making the best of what I’ve got.

“I enjoyed doing online classes at first but had a bit of a lull after about four weeks when I really started to miss my old routine and started to feel less fit than I was.

“I am now trying different ways to elevate my heart rate. I ordered a skipping rope, only to realise it aggravated an old Achilles injury.

“For the same reason, I struggle to run, but I’m always looking at new things to do.

“I do keep an eye on Government advice as things are changing often, and we all need to be flexible in our approach to this situation.”