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Anna Hopkin on facing change and importance of adaptability

Ahead of her appearance in our Sharing Success Series – where she will be speaking in-depth about her swimming journey – freestyle specialist Anna Hopkin gives some insight into her own career and her advice to youngsters.

Anna Hopkin knows all about adaptability.

The 25-year-old Commonwealth Games bronze medallist has had what some would call an unorthodox swimming career – taking a hiatus from the sport in her early teenage years.

Despite time spent out of the water, the now Loughborough National Centre-based athlete has enjoyed many breakout performances across the last number of years and has her sights set on this summer’s Olympic Games.

Hopkin believes her experiences are relevant to thousands of young club swimmers who have been forced to miss out on taking part in the sport they love while pools have been closed during the coronavirus lockdowns.

“You never forget how to swim. Everyone’s swimming journey is going to be different but when you’re young, you’re so adaptable. I took a really long break and I did other sports and I stayed fit.

“Obviously this is probably the longest that any of them will have been out of the water and I’m sure a lot of them have been doing that throughout this time – doing other sports to stay fit.”

Change and adaptability

Hopkin left the sport at the age of 13 after her love for swimming dwindled and she wanted to explore other sports. Before heading to University four years later, she decided to join a sports team and so a return to the water ensued.

This extended break is reminiscent of what members of the aquatics community are currently facing but her advice is simple.

She said: “Although you might have lost a bit of feel or fitness, it doesn’t take as long as you think it will to get back into it.

“When you’re young you think you have to be the best you’re going to be right there and then. Whereas actually, personally I think to have a long swimming career it’s better to have slow and steady improvements.”

Her experiences over the last year have also been dominated by change which reinforces her message that being adaptable is paramount in order to be a successful athlete.

Anna was completing a masters degree at The University of Arkansas and was due to graduate last summer, finish her collegiate career, and return to England to swim under Mel Marshall.

However, her plans were cut short due to the pandemic and so her departure from America was brought forward. A year out from Olympic Trials, she changed programme, coach, and country.

Anna will be sharing her story in the fully-booked Sharing Success session alongside European gold medallist Tom Dean on Sunday 7 March.

She said: “I’m really excited, I feel quite honoured to be asked to act as a mentor to younger swimmers.

“I think it will be really exciting to share my experiences and hopefully inspire some of the younger swimmers to take it to the next level.”