As part of the Zoggs #SwimHappy campaign, each week a Friend of Zoggs will be sharing their story of the water! To kick off the series Paralympic 50m Butterfly Gold Medalist, Susie Rodgers, shares what makes her #SwimHappy...
As Zoggs launch #SwimHappy, encouraging everyone to try swimming in all its forms: open water, indoor swimming, diving, triathlon and even free diving, it got me thinking about my own love of the water and why I really get huge pleasure from being a swimmer.
I started swimming when I was young and living in Egypt because of my father’s job. We were in Cairo, it was boiling hot and there were opportunities to take weekend trips and holidays to the Red Sea. I remember even as a six year old my parents wanted me to learn this life skill. I was wearing my arm bands and paddling in the hotel pool and my Dad was holding me and suddenly he just whipped the arm bands away and said “try copying your older sister”! I naturally panicked but once I relaxed, the flow came and that beautiful sense of calm and release of not having to wear my artificial arm and leg just took control and I managed a few, somewhat scrappy, doggie paddle strokes to get to the other side of the pool. That was it, I was hooked for life. I went on a trip to the Siniai in the Red Sea and we went out into the big blue on a yacht. As soon as we moored, it took me no time to jump in with my snorkel and mask and to observe the beauty of emptiness beneath me. I was not afraid; I was in awe of such a magical and incredible environment. This started a love affair with the ocean, sea and marine creatures that stays with me today.
"the way that my body, despite its imperfections, moves through the water... is a thing of beauty and is why I love the water so much."
After my Gold winning performance in Rio last year in the 50m Butterfly, I had already planned a trip to Australia and to visit the Great Barrier Reef, which I have wanted to do since I was that six year old in Egypt. I was the first in the water as the boat moored in the open ocean by the reef and I started deep diving holding my breath, letting my body ride with the current and watching a carpet shark as it rested on the reef beneath me. I took several moments to pause and look at the vast blue around me, the peace and the calm. It was a perfect way to round off such a magical dream of a year where I had reached the ultimate heights of my swimming career.
Swimming has always been so much more than the Paralympics and competition for me. I love competing and I love winning, but that sense of spiritual connection with the water and the way that my body, despite its imperfections, moves through the water, the feel of water like liquid mercury caressing my skin, it is a thing of beauty and is why I love the water so much. Yes swimming became my job for a time, but even before I competed internationally, I connected with an alien environment that opened up a world of endless possibility for me and ultimately, pure joy and happiness.
Why not, like Susie, let us know what makes you #SwimHappy? Whether you are on holiday, or just had your weekly swim, post your swim selfie / video on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and tag @ZoggsUK and #SwimHappy to be featured on our Hall of Fame. There will be five winners chosen from our Hall of Fame each month and one of the prizes includes a £50 Zoggs bundle so... get posting now!
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