“Although all of us may secretly want to, we’re not generally throwing chairs into the pool and sitting underwater doing funny poses”, smiles Helen Gorman, fresh from our photo shoot.
Helen is a World Record holding Master swimmer, aged 50, and adds “We’ve got goals to achieve and have a job to do, but hopefully we do it having a laugh, and definitely encourage each other through every session”.
It all started – as wonderful things in sport sometimes do – as the unexpected by product of misfortune. Helen explains, “When I was six I broke my leg and the only sport I was able to do was swim – I wasn’t allowed to run or jump, so swimming it was, and that was that!”
And so from playing games in the pool with her parents and swimming a few strokes before grabbing onto the side railings, to representing Great Britain and breaking world records in her age category, Helen has spent a lifetime swimming.
She joined her first swim club aged eight and loved being around other people crazy about swimming. “I can swim alone”, offers Helen tentatively, “and sometimes enjoy it, but I’d much rather be in a squad working towards goals and enjoying being together in the water.”
Clearly the connections extend beyond the pool too. “All of my best friends have been people I’ve trained with over the years,” she says. “You have a close bond with your team mates and I think because of that I’ll always be a member of a club.”
And how does Helen view swimming competitively aged 50?
“I don’t think swimming is just about breaking records, or even that winning really matters,” she says.” But when you’ve prepared for an event for a long time and everything goes right, there’s an incredible feeling of pride. You can achieve that at any level of the sport at any age.”
“I’m pleased with the decisions I’ve made,” says Helen. “I committed all my younger years to swimming. I left it for a few years, then came back, and returning to swimming I think is the best decision I ever made.”
Just having bagged a World Masters Record, Helen says modestly “It’s about staying healthy enough to keep enjoying being in the water.” And perhaps finding it hard even to consider life without swimming, adds “If I’m still able to swim at a reasonable level when I’m 70 I’ll be very happy!”