Alumni Spotlight: Commonwealth Games Swimmer Anna Maine

Catherine Ferguson

Woking  Swimming Club Alumna, Anna Maine (21), talks about her early days as a swimmer at Woking, her balance of other sports and rise to represent England at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.  

Q: Anna, You were a member of WSC since the age of 6? What are your earliest memories of swimming at the club?

My earliest memory was swimming in the 12.5m pool with Chris, building up my technique from the age of 8. 

Q: You slowly gained swimming success first at Diddys, Club Champs, County, Regional then reaching Nationals at the age of 12. What are your memories of your first County, Regionals and Nationals?

My first memory of county swimming was competing at Guildford Spectrum and at Crystal Palace, entering every event! I remember having very busy schedules throughout Surreys and Regionals but I loved competing from a young age so I tried to enter as much as possible. I really remember my first Nationals; I made a final in the 100 back (my only event at the time) and was there with Vince and Hannah. 

Q: You had a really successful Girls relay team whilst at the club. How did you enjoy competing as a team vs an individual swimmer?

I used to love racing in relays as it was so encouraging to be with friends sharing a common goal. It definitely helped take the pressure off slightly but that usually made me swim faster. I equally love competing individually though. 

Q: You balanced many other sports whilst at the club and at School?  What sports did you play, at what level and how did you manage to balance them all ?

I played a number of sports at school but I always thought it was important to carry those on as I felt it was beneficial to my swimming too. I played netball and lacrosse at national level and really loved both of them. My school was very accommodating but I just enjoyed playing so it never really felt like a chore having to balance everything.

Q: You were clearly talented at many sports. At what point did you eventually decide to focus on swimming?

I decided to focus on swimming when I started being funded and supported by British Swimming. I believe I was 16 but I definitely would encourage young swimmers to not give up team sports too early.

Q: Did playing other sports help you in your swimming ? and any tips for our young swimmers balancing their other sports?

I definitely think playing other sports helped my swimming. It allowed me to find a greater balance as I was able to stay connected with my friends. I thoroughly enjoyed all team sports and I think it made me a better all round athlete. 

Q: Many of our young swimmers have been out of the water for some time.  You had to take time out of the sport at age 15 (?) after an injury.  Can you tell us more about this time and the challenges it brought?   

I honestly think taking some time out of the water can be hugely beneficial. I would encourage young swimmers to see it as a positive and not a negative. It gives your body a full chance to recover and your muscle memory will come back as soon as you can back in the pool. After an injury in 2015 I had to take around 3 months off, and I came back stronger and faster than ever. That year I was selected by British swimming to join the podium potential pathway and attained two national records. Taking time off made me more even determined to prove my ability. 

Q: You competed  internationally on many occasions and at such a young age. How did you cope with this ?

Every time I was selected to compete internationally I just saw it as such incredible experience. I just enjoyed being around some amazing athletes and tried to learn as much as possible from my team mates and other international swimmers. It was pressuring at times, but I knew why I was there and always tried to perform at my best. 
 

Q: Woking were incredibly proud on your selection for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.  Can you tell us a little about this amazing experience? 

The Commonwealth Games was certainly the highlight of my career. It was an experience I will never forget and it was such a memorable time in my life. We arrived around 2 weeks before the competition started to train and adjust to the time difference and then moved to the Commonwealth village a few days before racing started. The food court was like no other, it had every cuisine you could think of and was open 24/7. We were taken everywhere in buses to make sure we were rested so we could put all our energy into competing.  The pool was incredible, there was 10,000 spectators which was somewhat nerve-racking but added such an incredible atmosphere to the event. My parents came out to support me which I was hugely grateful for and it made competing so much more special. I also had so much support from the club, my coach Mark and all my friends. Lots of them were watching me on TV and sending me videos when I walked out. 

Q: Looking back, what benefits  do you feel your swimming brought to your life outside of the pool?

Swimming allowed me to grow in so many ways. Being able to travel around the wold developed my independence, time management and organisational skills. Training provided me with huge discipline and showed me the value of having routine and structure. I developed some amazing friendships and am so grateful for all the people I was able to meet both from the club and throughout the country. 

Q: Can you tell us a little about what you are doing now and how have you coped through lock down?

I stopped swimming at the start of my 2nd year at the University of Edinburgh. I had an incredible career and was so grateful for all the opportunities I was given but felt it was the right time for me to stop and focus on my university degree. I am now studying Sustainable Development (MA) and am coming up the end of my third year, with one more year to go. I have been lucky to be able to go back to Edinburgh to study, which definitely gave me something to work towards during lockdown. I have also been living with my friends so we have all kept each other motivated which is been great. 
 

Q: Any final words for our young swimmers at the club ?

Stay positive and work hard when you are able to get back in the pool. Enjoy the journey as the results will come!

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