What it’s like to be an elite swimmer in lockdown: Team GB’s Alice Dearing

What is it like to be an elite athlete and see your Olympic dreams put on hold? Team GB open water swimmer Alice Dearing is a former world and European junior champion and hoped to represent Great Britain in the 10k open water race at the Tokyo Olympics. The final qualifiers were due to take place on 13 May in Japan. We spoke to Alice about how she is staying in shape, sane and motivated while at home.

How are you coping with not being in the water?

I am doing alright so far. I am starting to miss the pool a bit but obviously it hasn’t even been a week yet. On average I usually train for 18 hours a week, swimming 55km. I am quite lucky because last week was a lighter training week so that has helped me detrain a little bit. I haven’t gone from high volume to nothing. But still, it is a bit of shock.

How are you keeping fit?

I did my first run ever on Monday and I am still sore now! So I am going to get better at running. I did a core session yesterday and I am going to do one tomorrow too. Yesterday Loughborough Swimming did a group circuit workout on Zoom. It shows the potential future – you do need face to face interaction but it shows that it isn’t always necessary.

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Alice in her usual environment

How did you find out about the Olympics being postponed?

Yesterday I had people message me saying ‘sorry about the Olympics’ but I hadn’t seen any news. I then scrolled through Twitter and I saw it had been postponed until 2021. So I found out like everyone else!

You have been training hard for Tokyo. How are you feeling about the postponement?

I am fine to be honest. I am more concerned about the qualification race as they haven’t announced anything yet. The race is scheduled for 13 May. Obviously the news only broke yesterday so I am hoping FINA will do the sensible thing and push that back. But I have to be prepared they might not. Other than that I am quite chilled out about it. It is what it is and it gives me another year to get faster.

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Alice in action at the Fina World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, last summer

How are you finding life in isolation?

I think I am coping alright. I do have housemates but they have gone home so I am living by myself at the moment. Luckily I am quite happy with my own company. I have been on the Switch playing Animal Crossing and Zelda. That is the majority of my day!

What are your tips for keeping happy and positive?

Keep your mind active. Video games help my mind tick over. But it is tough. It is important to reach out and talk to people.

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Jonathan is a year-round skins swimmer with a particular love of very cold water. He has competed in ice swimming competitions around the world. He is a qualified open water coach with a particular love of introducing new swimmers to the open water.