Determined Amber Haycock sets her sights high after lockdown disappointments

As part of the Swim England #YourMembershipCounts campaign, we have been finding out how our clubs and members have stayed engaged with their sport, coped with the challenges of 2020, and their hopes for the future.

Strong-willed para-swimmer Amber Haycock has said her time out of the water has made her ‘determined to get to as high a level as possible’.

The Rushden youngster had set her sights on progressing in her age group before the national lockdown forced pools to close and saw events cancelled.

Amber explained that at the beginning of the first lockdown in March, she missed socialising with her team-mates and her training routine.

She added: “I was really disappointed when a lot of the major competitions were cancelled as I was looking forward to making an impact in the final year of my under 13s age group.”

Amber’s training programme shifted drastically to accommodate her time out of the water.

Bike rides, long walks and strength-and-conditioning exercises filled her day-to-day training routine.

I really love swimming

However, her family was able to set up a 12ft inflatable pool in their garden – allowing Amber to attach herself to a bungee cord and swim for short bursts at a time.

Despite the difficulties presented to her, Amber feels that her love for swimming has been reignited after the time away from the pool.

“Above everything else, this year has taught me that I really love swimming,” she said.

“I am determined and focused to get to as high a level as possible.

“I quite like the structure and routine of training sessions. I love to challenge myself and I really enjoy the thrill of competing.”

She also commended her club and Swim England for the ‘fantastic’ support and help given to her over the course of the lockdown.

“My club managed to get a fitness coach to run workouts three times a week over Zoom,” she said.

Interesting workshops

“The head coach also set up a quiz and story writing competition and also a couple of Zoom discussions to talk about fitness and to catch up with my swimming friends.”

Amber is on the Swim England Para-swimming Talent Squad and says she thoroughly enjoyed the ‘interesting workshops’ delivered weekly throughout the lockdown.

She said: “I have learned from the Swim England talent workshops and discussions that land work, core strength, my lifestyle, time management and realistic process goals will all help me in my swimming journey but also in day-to-day life as I get older.

Several guest speakers also appeared via Zoom sessions, including British Paralympian Maisie Summers-Newton who Amber “really enjoyed” hearing from.

In addition, the talent team arranged for a physiotherapist to review some of the exercises that Amber was struggling with and came up with some alternatives for her to do instead.

Amber said the backing she has received from her club, family and the talent squad had ‘really kept up [her] motivation and interest in swimming during both of these lockdowns’.

She is currently working off a ‘return to training process goals from August – December 2020’ timetable which she was encouraged to create during the first lockdown  – and now feels her time management skills and goal-setting skills are improving.