My mum introduced me to swimming at an early age, paddling in the training pool. In primary school I took lessons. I had a instructor who was encouraging, friendly and patient. I accumulated six local school badges, including 25 metres unaided, and overcame my fear to pencil dive. Swimming was one of the first sports in which I gained personal success.
I took a long break from swimming throughout my teens and later picked it up as training for my sprint triathlon. I swam with friends and colleagues from my university sports centre. I enjoyed the challenge even though it took a while to regain the correct technique with the aid of a nose plug, goggles and cap.
Swimming has taught me to be a better athlete.
There are many components to any action – swimming is difficult because you have to find a rhythm with your breathing, as well as arm, leg and head movements.
Confidence in enduring discomfort is essential to progress – my fear of drowning, especially at the deep end of the pool, taught me to focus and recognise that this was a barrier to my athletic development.
The importance of a mentor can never be underestimated – my instructor gave me the necessary knowledge and self-belief to continue even when I could have easily given up.
Feeling relaxed is the optimal state for performance – considerable practice and calmness during exercise are essential to realise your full potential.
Accumulating mementos can inspire you – a motivating factor growing up was to obtain the next badge, which continually pushed me to achieve more than I would have otherwise.
I am not the best swimmer, not least because I find it hard to stay afloat. However, it is an exercise that requires immense concentration and helped me overcome personal weaknesses growing up.