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Aussie F-Teamers dive back in as pools re-open.

16 June 2020

F-Teamer Carla Buchanan in the Single Strap One Piece in Lovebird

The lifting of restrictions in Australia has seen the gradual return of squads to the pool. It has been the longest period out of the water for some swimmers, making their comeback even tougher. Many have had to adjust their training regimes, focusing on strength and getting used to dryland workouts but it doesn't make up for the feel of the water which is so easy to lose so quickly. So the excitement to gear up in Funkitas and dive in again with squad mates is no doubt mixed with the uncertainty of how swimmers will perform when it comes time to build up to full training again.

We caught up with three of our F-Teamers, Carla Buchanan, Lucky Patterson and Tianni Gilmour to see how their return to the water is going.

What was your first thought when you were told you could train in the pool again?

Carla - I was just so excited to swim and move through the water as we spent quite a few weeks training in a 7m pool attached to a bungee, not moving anywhere! I couldn't wait to move and swim freely. The bungee also made my stroke feel a little different so I was excited to just feel normal again!

Lucky - I was so ecstatic! I was so excited to just get back into the heated pool, instead of continuing open water swimming in lakes and ocean during winter. Perfect timing if you ask me!

Tianni - I was pretty excited! I think for many of us it would have been the longest we?ve ever had out of the pool so to hear we were allowed back was great news.

What did your first training session look like?

Carla - My very first sessions were in freezing pools (the coldest was 19 degrees) so they were just "swim as fast and far as you can before you freeze to death" sessions! My very first session back in a pool that was a normal, bearable temperature was just a nice easy 3km, just getting a feel for the water and getting used to turns again.

Lucky - The first session back was a bit difficult as I tried to readjust back into it, and gain back my fitness. But it was a good session, just focusing on my stroke and technique, trying to avoid sloppy strokes that could lead to pain and injuries.

Tianni - It was pretty relaxed for us, around 3km. It was mainly about finding the feel again and just enjoying being back in the pool.

Lucky Patterson has been trading the pool for the open water during lockdown

Can you train with your squad and if so, how many are allowed in the pool?

Carla - Yes we can! Not the whole squad yet. We are now allowed 20 people so we can have 2 in a lane which I'm never going to complain about because on a normal day at our pool we could have anywhere up to say 12 people in one lane so it is so nice to spread out a bit and do your own thing!

Lucky - Yes, fortunately we are allowed 10 people in the pool which is our entire national squad. We each have our own lane to adhere to social distancing, but because we are so spread out, we can't really chat with everyone. Which is pretty much the same as training beforehand, as we never have enough rest to have a chat. It is good to see each other again, and have that support, pushing each other to be better, other than being alone during the isolation period.

Tianni - We are currently training one person per lane.

What measures are in place at your pool?

Carla - Some pools I have been back in, take your temperature when you arrive and fill out a form each time with contact details in case we need to be notified. Others we have to enter through one gate, leave through a different one and sanitise our hands when we arrive and before we leave as well. And of course, maintain 1.5m between everyone at all times.

Lucky - Social distancing, with time limits for sessions, and people allowed in to the facility at a time. Also pretty thorough cleaning routines and checks, all to make sure we are all following the guidelines. Just the new normal now I guess.

Tianni - At the moment we are having our temperatures taken on arrival at the pool and we all have allocated squares for our training bags to ensure the 1.5m distance.

What have you missed most about swimming at the pool?

Carla - Funny enough I have actually missed the big main sets we were doing right before we stopped. We were getting some really good work done and it all just disappeared in a day so while training on the bungee can still be made hard, it's just different and not the same. I missed just getting in and getting those kilometres in the bank, and then getting smashed in some crazy main sets! It was also pretty lonely through the isolation period as you hardly see anyone from the squad, let alone everyone at one time, every day, at every session which we are used to. So, I missed having everyone around at the pool.

Lucky - I have missed everything about swimming! For me, swimming is therapy and I rely on it to help me move and get through my day. So not swimming every day is not viable for me. Therefore, whilst the pools where shut, I took my training to the ocean which was very different. A vast majority of our squad are open water swimmers, so I've done open water swims before, but I have never been a massive fan of ocean swimming. The more I swam in the ocean; The more I enjoyed it and I became a lot more confident which was great. But swimming in the ocean is very different to the pool, you have to focus on your stroke so it doesn't get sloppy and the waves knock you around a lot more than the pool. So, I'm very glad to be back in my normal environment.

Tianni - I definitely missed the squad! We usually spend so much time together so it took a bit to get used to not seeing them everyday.

Carla is glad to swim freely in the pool again

How have you been feeling in the water?

Carla - I feel pretty good! I know I have obviously lost some speed and fitness as is expected after 10 weeks but I feel better than I thought I would and actually feel a bit stronger in the water which is an added bonus so I think my dryland work and rehab for those few months has really paid off which is even better!

Lucky - Other than feeling like I'm learning to swim again to some extent, it feels like I'm back in my happy place. I'm slowly getting back to where I was at beforehand. The feeling of your body gliding through the water is absolutely magical and freeing. So good to be back!

Tianni - The first week was definitely a weird feeling but I am slowly gaining my fitness and feel for the water back.

Has your dry land helped or has it made you feel different in the water?

Carla - I think it has really helped! I worked pretty hard through iso to keep up as much strength and fitness as I could, more for injury prevention. I am excited for things to get back to normal and for our own pool to open hopefully soon and have even more of the squad back together again, getting it done!

Lucky - Water is therapy for me and definitely helps me move better, compared to land-based activity. In saying that, I took this opportunity to do some different things, and do what I could to keep active. Focusing on more stretching and cycling on the spin bike, keeping up cardio in a different form. Whilst different, I do believe it has aided my swimming and helped with the transition back into training.

Tianni - I think the dry land training I was doing has made it a little easier for me to regain my fitness again. I had been doing a fair bit of running during the time out of the pool and it has seemed to transfer over to my kick in the pool which definitely helps.

Adapting outside of the pool has been challenging for not only our athletes but for all of the swimming community. We have our fingers and toes crossed that restrictions will start to lift all over the globe and as swimmers we can all get back to doing what we love.

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