Glenalmond pupil Katherine B made an exciting return to racing at British Competition level in Manchester this weekend. Katherine describes how good it is to be back competing and thanks her teachers at Glenalmond for being "brilliant" in their support and helping her work round her training.
Katherine stepped up alongside the British Senior and Juniors this weekend at the British Swimming Invitational meet in Manchester
The second British Swimming meet of the year saw a number of swimmers from north of the border invited to compete in Manchester over the weekend. The event was run in a very different environment to normal, with Covid tests before the event and on arrival and those involved confined to hotel rooms for meals and downtime when not racing.
Katherine raced the 200m and 100m butterfly and 200m and 800m freestyle against some very strong internationally recognised swimmers from across Britain - with the event streamed live on British Swimming’s YouTube channel.
"I felt really privileged to be the first Perth City swimmer back racing after 12 months, with my last race being at the Edinburgh International exactly a year ago," said Katherine.
"I knew this was going to be a massive test and step up for me given the number of senior swimmers racing. My coach, Ann, was only able to watch on the live stream back in Perth and it was strange not having her around, but we spoke before and after each race.
"I was so keen to get back into racing I couldn’t miss this opportunity, plus it felt so good to see some of my Scottish Swimming Youth Team-mates after such a long time, as well as seeing some familiar faces from Perth, Stephen Milne, Jack Muncy and Scott McLay who now train at the University of Stirling."
She says that while, naturally she is not at the same level as she was when lockdown started, the weekend has given her a baseline to build on, having competed after such a long time away from racing.
"I’ve picked up loads of learnings from each race and I’ll sit down with my coach over the next week to plan out the next stage of training. We’ll also review whether or not I go to the Olympic trials in April given that it’s changed to focus on seniors and will be held in a Covid bubble similar to Manchester. The other option is focus on some potential junior events in the summer," Katherine added.
Having been out of the water for six months during the first lockdown, Katherine said it was a real challenge to adjust from being in the water six days a week to nothing.
"My club, Perth City, have been brilliant getting us together for online training with coach Richard Norris, getting Olympians like Jazz Carlin and our own Stephen Milne to talk to us. There have been and quizes and family nights, but I’ve really missed seeing everyone every day - you don’t realise how important that is until it disappears," she said.
During the first lockdown Katherine did circuit training in the garden and running and cycling loops around Auchterarder to maintain a level of fitness.
"We were lucky in Perth to have a great facility for open water swimming at Williowgate and, when that was allowed in July and August, I swam there. Looking back now I can’t thank Adam and the team enough for how they helped all the local swimmers across the Midland district during that time - it made a real difference to both my mindset and fitness level, although I don’t think the wetsuit will be coming out again soon!"
Katherine returned to the pool in mid-September with her school,Glenalmond, and her teammates at Perth City. The club overcame the loss of Perth Leisure Pool after the flooding by using multiple facilities all over Perthshire and the University of Stirling.
This all come to halt again for the Perth team and Katherine at the second lockdown prior to Christmas with pools and schools closed, but she was delighted that her coach Ann Dickson arranged a small amount of training with Stirling University between Christmas and new year.
This led to her being included in the British Swimming bubble as a member of the Scottish Youth Team and she has been able to train with University of Stirling since January, but without her coach.
"It’s been really hard balancing online schooling with travelling to and from Stirling twice a day which I’ll do untill I return to school in April.
"Previously all my training was either early morning or in the evening, so I’ve had to adjust my sleep and eating times. My teachers at Glenalmond have been brilliant to me and technology has helped - I even managed to join lessons online whilst travelling to Manchester," Katherine said.
Looking ahead to the future, Katherine is hopeful that she will be back with her Club team-mates in the water at the end of April as the country comes out of lockdown. With the prospect of further racing in the summer, she is hopeful of a bright future in 2022 in the pool.