- Quote: ‘I hope my wetsuit still fits me – I am literally a fish out of water!’
Andrew Atkinson talks to Masters Swimmer with Club Natacion Torrevieja Vicki Connolly surrounding the government’s legislation to allow professional and registered swimmers enter the sea under the easing of restrictions in the wake of COVID-19.
VICKI Connolly has been a swimmer all her life, an active Masters Swimmer with Club Natación Torrevieja, both in pool and open water swimming.
“I have never been out of the water for seven weeks – even when pregnant with our two daughters,” said Vicki.
In an Exclusive interview with The Leader, Vicki said: “Lockdown has been really hard for me, from a sporting perspective.
“Although swimming is a non-contact sport it invariably involves others in a similar close environment, clocking up the lengths in long training sessions with others.
“In the sea our open-water training is different – we can keep our distance and direction.”
Vicki, from Los Montesinos, Alicante, said: “When the lockdown began I was one of the last to swim in the Olympic sized indoor pool in Torrevieja, on March 12.
“They literally closed the doors on us as we left. Since, I have not been in the water.”
Vicki has remained in isolation at home, up to the easing of restrictions put in place over phases, brought into play on May 4.
“In order to try and maintain fitness, everyday indoor activities, including cycling, rowing and core strength work are undertaken.
“But it’s not the same as the feel of the water. Going from five or more, two hour sessions in the pool or sea every week, to nothing is demoralising. “Wondering if you can retrieve your stoke and speed, when you are able to swim again,” said Vicki.
“In the bigger concept of COVID-19 I understand safety must come first,” said Vicki, whose sister is a nurse in the NHS.
“My sister is a Senior Nurse in Derby and is working in the ICU Covid-19 wards – so I know what she is going through, every day.
“However, it still doesn’t take away the feeling of hope when the Phased return to normality plan was released, that we might get back to swimming soon.”
With Los Montesinos restrictions on the populace, under 5,000, restricted to 1km distance legislation, Vicki said: “We have to wait longer.
“If I lived within 1km of the sea, then, in theory I could swim in the sea, as the rules state.
“I do not live within 1km of the sea. I live next door to our Urbanisation community pool – but that is closed too – probably until June, along with public pools.
“So the wait goes on for me – and many other swimmers,” added Vicki.
“The National Spanish Swimming Federation has put together a Covid-19 Protocol for open water swimming, but we need access to water.
“Torrevieja Town Hall have recognised this and has granted access at specific points, on specific beaches, for Federated Club Swimmers.
“We will be required to prove, with licenced documents, that we are Federated Club Swimmers. So now I have to wait until I am allowed to travel to that location.
“We swim in open water all year long, with specific safety equipment and adhere to marine and open water protocols, so we are used to not having the luxury of a Lifeguard.
“Hopefully we will be back in the sea soon. I hope my wetsuit still fits me! I am literally a fish out of water!,” quipped Vicki.
Vicki, who has already had many Open water and pool Championship competitions cancelled this season, said: “Like most I can’t wait until normal sporting timetables resume.”
Cover picture: Club Natacion Torrevieja Masters swimmers (left to right) Christine Johnson, Vicki Connolly and Beryl Altabas, medal winners at the 2020 IV Campeonato Regional Open Masters in Santa Ana, Murcia on March 7, prior to lockdown.