As first seen in the Yorkshire Post, Independent Financial Advisor Richard talks about his passion for swimming.
Swimming has always been part of my life. When I learned to swim as a youngster at the age of 6, I seemed to develop an aptitude for it straight away. My parents took me down to the local swimming club where I quickly progressed, and ultimately outgrew the club. I then moved on to a different club competing at county level from the age of ten. This developed to regional level from age eleven then national level from age twelve. I won several county and regional titles and I was a national finalist on multiple occasions. I also swam for Yorkshire and the North-East schools’ division.
After a ‘temporary’ sabbatical (17 years!) I started competing again as a masters swimmer a few years ago. Even after I finished competing as a junior swimmer, I maintained an interest in sport and physical activity, completing a degree in Health and Sport and working part-time as a gym instructor whilst I was studying. My passion for keeping fit and being healthy has remained with me throughout my life. I continued to train in the gym to keep as physically fit as possible and took part in other activities such as boxing, running and fitness classes.
Whilst I don’t always ‘love’ training (as you can imagine, it was gruelling as a youngster having to get up at 5 am to train three mornings a week!) I was always competitive and for the most part, I really loved competing and the buzz you get from performing well and succeeding. To compete at the top level, you really must have a strong passion for the sport and a desire to put it before everything else. It was the drive to compete that got me back into the sport a few years ago. I also find that training, in general, helps me to switch off and forget about things like work, and helps with managing things like anxiety and mental stress. With a busy and sometimes quite demanding job, it helps me have another area to focus on.
In a typical week, I probably swim 3-4 times a week and I also do a similar number of gym sessions. I usually have one day off exercising a week. If I have a competition on the horizon I might do even more in the lead-up. It really is just part of my life and I haven’t known or wanted it any other way.
If you were to ask me when I was 6 if I would still be swimming now, I don’t think I’d have thought I would be! But my tips for anyone trying to get into a ‘sport’ or physical activity pastime are to find something they enjoy doing… Not everyone likes going to the gym for an hour a day, so pick something that interests you, and set time aside to do it. Some people prefer to exercise with other people so joining a club or doing group exercise helps maintain motivation. With any sport, if your aim is to get to a high level you ideally need to start at a young age and put it above other hobbies and interests. Some people think that you miss out on a lot as a youngster being so committed to a passion like this, but I think the opposite… I believe that doing sport from a young age helps instil discipline and makes it easier to motivate yourself to stay fit as you get older and reach for your dreams by working hard.