I have always been an active person. I used to run as a teenager and I was always on my bike. I played rugby for most of my adult life but knew I couldn't continue with that as I got older. I needed another sport and so I decided that, as I am a runner and cyclist (self-labelled), triathlons were the perfect transition.
But what about the swim?
After my first triathlon I knew that it was the swim that let me down – I was slow and inefficient and it was due to my technique: I didn't kick my legs or put my face in the water which meant that I wasn’t streamlined and so my arms were dragging me through like a dead weight. It’s what I call the “oblique method” (because it looks like a “forward-slash”).
After a recommendation from a friend, I joined Her Spirit for swimming lessons in the pool. I signed up to the 6 week course and within those 6 weeks I could see my technique develop to freestyle. My default was still the “oblique method” but I knew I could swim freestyle.
Immediately after the course finished, lockdown hit and the pools closed. Later, and after a knee injury, I decided to try swimming again. I needed to exercise for both my mental and physical health as I could feel both decline.
I tried swimming on my own and I was able to swim with the “oblique method” and progressed to freestyle but I knew I needed more. I needed help with the technique but more so I needed a community. Knowing how fun and inclusive the sessions were with HerSpirit, I reached out and decided to attend more sessions. I am proud to say that my default is no longer the “oblique method” and I have started to swim in open water with an amazing bunch of women who have all inspired me in different ways.
As an openly confident lesbian, I never consciously worry about whether I will fit in somewhere because I am gay – maybe it’s because I have never felt discriminated against as a result of my sexuality. I was lucky enough to play rugby with a group of women that created an environment for LGBT+ people that was considered normal. It was normal to talk about your partner without having to “come out” in the same way as a heterosexual couple would talk about their partner – because it is normal. I have adopted that way in the heteronormative society that we live in and I subconsciously seek out similar environments. HerSpirit is one of those environments.
My sexuality doesn’t define me but it is part of me. Being a rugby player doesn’t define me but it is part of me. I’m not ready to label myself as a swimmer yet but it is part of me and I am thankful that I found HerSpirit to help with the journey.
Whilst I can’t tell you a story about how I struggled with my sexuality or give specific advice as to what swimming is like as a member of the LGBT+ community, I can be a lighthouse to show you that its ok to be part of any community even if you’re not ready to give yourself a label.