28 January 2023
Words: Rosanna Machado, Elle Stephens
Big thank you to Rosanna for coming in to our studio to meet the team and discuss her swimming journey. Rosanna learnt to swim at an early age but developed a fear of swimming and didn’t take it up again until 20 years later, and has since fallen in love with the sport!
Rosanna has been involved in multiple swim adventures, including swim holidays, and even swimming the channel for spinal charity Aspire, raising £5000! We also discussed the mental resilience one must adopt when taking up sports and the limiting beliefs that are very prevalent in the sports community today and how to overcome them.
Thank you so much Rosanna for coming in, we really loved hearing your story. We love how she looks in her new Mai Tai Tiger suit!
1. How does swimming make you feel, what are the benefits you notice on your mental and physical health?
It makes me feel so energised. It’s a time when I can fully switch off, immerse myself and it’s a meditation for me. Everything is better in my life once I have swum. It is amazing for my mental health as it resets me and I certainly couldn’t do my job without swimming.
Physically it keeps me in shape although I tend to slow down in open water so it’s less of a physical workout and more of a mental workout and enjoying my surroundings.
2. When did you start swimming and how long after did you swim the channel?
I learnt to swim when I was 5 or 6 but developed a fear of putting my head under water and I hated my swimming lessons. There was a big gap after school and then in my mid 30s I took up swimming regularly, at first for mental health and then the physical benefits came too. I swam the Channel in 2021 so 40 years after I learnt to swim but 10 years after I started swimming regularly.
3. Any key lessons from swimming the channel?
The most painful bit is being on the boat so it was actually a joy to swim! For me personally, it was about having a realistic outlook about my swimming abilities – I knew I was one of the slower swimmers but I had worked hard on my fitness so I had to remember I had all the tools to do what I needed to do. It’s also a lot down to nature whether you can complete the crossing or not.
It’s taught me to push myself and try things that I thought I would never be able to do.
4. Daily moment of joy?
Swimming and smiling, preferably both together!
5. You mentioned in an article I read, that you forced your face under the water and felt as though you had “wasted 20 years”. Was this a moment you now carry with you that impacts everyday life when facing decision making and overcoming fears?
Yes I believe we worry a lot about things and catastrophise imagining the worst possible outcome. I am definitely braver as you never know where something will lead and you learn and grow from everything that challenges you.
6. How do you make time for swimming with your busy work and personal life, do you have to be disciplined with yourself?
I had a lightbulb moment 10 years ago. I had been trying to swim the same days every week and it didn’t work as I don’t have the same routine every week. I suddenly realised that I was better off planning each week as it comes – I now look at my diary on a Sunday and plan my 4 swims. So I flex the days, times and lengths of the swim to fit with other commitments but the swims always happen as it is a core part of my self-care routine.
7. Any tips or advice to those who are thinking of starting swimming?
Give it a go and set your own targets. I used to worry that I was slower or worse than everyone else but I now know it is just about me and as long as I am enjoying it that is the main thing. Come to West Reservoir as we are a very friendly bunch there!
8. Do you prefer swimming in a pool or outdoor swimming?
I only took up outdoor swimming 10 years ago and I have got more and more hooked over the years. I love being outside but I also like challenging myself to swim better in a pool. London Fields Lido is a good combination of heat yet outdoors for those longer swims in the Winter.
9. Favourite post swim snack!?
Pickled Onion Monster Munch and a hot Ribena!