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Lily Bond blogs about National Masters

After her challenge of returning to the water ready for the 2014 Masters championships, Lily Bond blogs about how her intentions to train and compete throughout the year didn’t quite go to plan, and how she overcame a lack of preparation time.

So that time of year has come around again, and all too quickly. The ASA National Masters and Senior Age Group Championships 2015 took place from the 23-25 October.

As I mentioned in my last post in 2014, I had picked up the swimming bug and was considering entering more competitions.

The best laid plans

Sadly this was not the case. At last year’s National Masters I was suffering with a shoulder injury.

I was still adamant that I was going to get in the water and compete as I had made the commitment to myself that I would race again. Plus what would I write about if I hadn’t competed?

So after the 2014 Nationals I sought the advice from a physiotherapist. They advised me to take a break from swimming to let my shoulder recover.

At first I missed being in the water so I began aqua jogging for a few months. But I have to admit I soon fell off the wagon again.

Roll on 2015 and I thought New Year, New Me. Why not join the gym like most people do in January?

I soon became a fitness fanatic, much to the surprise to my friends and family. It didn’t take long before I became one of those people who gets up at 6am to get to the gym before work!

I have always eaten a fairly healthy diet, but being surrounded by those within the fitness industry I began to ‘tighten up’ my diet and eat the majority of my meals out of Tupperware.

This was mainly because I was juggling a full time job, a part time job and the gym, and so I was constantly on the move. Check out my ‘fast fuel’ granola bars recipe.

My main focus was to have that ‘beach body’ ready for my summer getaway with friends.

Lily Bond shows her physique

A bit of last minute prep

Come September I realised it was that time of year again where if I wanted to compete at ASA National Masters I needed to get back into the water.

So after what seemed like a month long birthday celebration of indulging in too much cake and drink it was time to knuckle down.

I didn’t have the same preparation as last year. I had given myself less time to train in the water, the shoulder injury made another appearance and I had managed to catch the office cold.

It felt like I was having more ‘rest’ days than training days! Had I left it all too late?!

The journey I had embarked on between entering the competition, to standing behind those blocks had certainly been an emotionally draining experience. I knew I had to block out those niggling doubts that I was underprepared and race to the best of my ability given the circumstances.

I was overwhelmed, given the build-up, that I managed to come away with a couple of lifetime bests. This was my second ever competition since deciding to make a return to the sport last year.

The beauty of Masters swimming

As a youth swimmer it was always about competing against your rivals and being the ‘winner’. But what I love about Masters events is that it’s not who is lined up on the blocks next to you. The focus is on you as an individual and about what you want to achieve. It doesn’t matter that the person in the lane next to you might be going for a record, you race the race for yourself!

With that in mind, I feel I still have unfinished business with the water. I am even more determined to get back in the pool long term (no more trying to cram in all my training in one month prior!) and focus on improving my technique.

Lily Bond dives off the blocks

But for now it is time to fix this shoulder ready for the 2016 season. I overheard numerous times at the weekend ‘it doesn’t matter about this weekend, May 2016 is where it counts’.

See you at Europeans!