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  • Anabelle Smith

Starting from scratch...

As restrictions begin to ease in Melbourne, we are slowly starting back at training. Firstly, getting back to the gym has been great, and training back with my teammates has been a lot more fun.

But I wanted to write today about starting back from scratch.


Rewind 3 months, before COVID 19 changed the world, I was in peak form. I’d just come back from the first World Series event in Montreal where I won an individual medal for the first time at that level, and I was feeling strong, fit and confident. Sitting at my desk typing this now, I am feeling quite the opposite. It makes me feel a little discouraged to realise only 3 months ago I was on top of my game, and due to the circumstances, I feel like now I am back at square one.


On one hand, it makes me motivated to build back up to where I know I can get to, but on the other hand it is super frustrating to have to go through that process again. You lose it so much quicker than the time it takes to gain it back. The positive though, is that time is on our side, and there is no rush to be ready for any events in the next few months.

Throughout lockdown, I tried to do my best at maintaining some level of fitness. I had a home gym program I did 2-3 times a week, I did some light cardio on my bike and a little bit of running, and I experimented with some other online exercise classes. So I was definitely still moving, but the biggest factor was being unable to do any diving specific training. Not only did we not have access to the pool, I also was unable to do any ‘dryland work’ which is usually 50% of our training. This includes trampoline work, land somersaults onto a crash mat and dry board work (a diving board that lands onto a mat). So, this meant I was unable to maintain a lot of my ‘diving conditioning’.


Like gymnastics, diving is a sport that requires movements and skills that are near impossible to replicate without the normal equipment or training environment. My legs are so used to bouncing on a board and my body is used to ballistically bending into a pike. I never even think about the load my body is conditioned to tolerate because it has been 15 years of repetition. And the longest break we usually have is a couple of weeks.


I felt pretty good getting back in to the gym 2 weeks ago, and I have been focusing on pilates recently to re-activate all those small stabilising muscles that I need for diving. My body was prepared and mobile, however I had definitely lost strength. For example, for a simple back squat, I used to warm up with 60kg, however now I warm up with just the bar (20kg) and am maxing out at 60kg. It’s a little demoralising to feel like I have regressed, but it was obviously to be expected.


A week ago we got back in the pool for the first time. It was exciting and nerve-racking to test the aerial awareness again, but I certainly wasn’t looking forward to being in my bathers in the cold MSAC water. It was surprisingly warm, however that only lasted one session! Unfortunately about midway through my program I mildly put my neck out. A normal habit for me to do during training is to bounce on one leg and shake my head to get the water out of my ears. Well, apparently when you stop doing that for 3 months, you’re body now thinks that you are inflicting whiplash and your neck will going into self-preservation mode and lock up. As silly as it sounds, it’s another side of that ‘diving conditioning’ I mentioned - movements I was so used to doing at the pool but haven’t replicated whilst being unable to train.


Luckily, I am coming out the other side of a very minor set back in our first week back at training and have now realised my return needs to be even slower and more closely monitored. I am excited for the next three months to return to my usual routine, and can’t wait to feel like myself in the pool again!


Til next week, Belle

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