Im Sophie, a fully qualified STA Level 2 Open Water Coach and Mental Health Swim Host based in Cambridgeshire.
I learnt to swim at a very young age and growing up in Hastings, East Sussex by the sea I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to swim in the sea whenever I wanted. However, it wasn’t until I was 12 and I joined the Hastings Voluntary Lifeguarding Club that I was introduced to the wonders of open water swimming. I quickly fell in love with the sea and swimming outdoors and spent every summer from then onwards at the beach and in the sea. I somehow soon found myself training for triathlons and a cross channel relay team!
I kept swimming through college and even managed to find a lake to swim in when I went to University. However, at the start of my 2nd year of University I was involved in a cycling accident and knocked off my bike by a car. I got away lightly and with very few injuries but as a result of the injuries I developed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS. This is a neurological chronic pain condition and it completely changed my life. I stopped swimming.
Swimming became painful to me, part of CRPS is that it causes extreme sensitivity meaning that anything touching my legs is painful. I couldn’t wear trousers because the material hurt my legs, I couldn’t be out in the wind because it hurt, even the water from having a shower was painful. I thought, and feared that I would never swim again.
As a result of my injury I am now reliant on mobility aids, predominately a wheelchair but I can also walk short distances with crutches and even shorter distances unaided. Although this sometimes causes difficulties, it has given me a different perspective of the world and means that I am open to and able to easily adapt my coaching to each individual. I am used to finding unconventional ways to do things and willing to try and help anyone with any of their goals, be it a specific event or just to improve your Open Water Swimming technique so that you can enjoy swimming outdoors even more!
You can find out more information about my journey from my accident to an Open Water Coach below.