In this guest blog post, MySwimPro Ambassador Gabrielle Osborne shares how MySwimPro is helping her get faster and prioritize her mental health.
Hello, my name is Gabrielle Osborne. I am 51 years old and live in Tasmania, Australia, where I run an accounting business. I am married with two teenage daughters and two rescued greyhounds. I came back to swimming in late 2017 when I fractured my spine after about 30 years out of the pool and it has completely turned my mental and physical health around. I am in the best shape of my life!
My Swimming Background
I swam competitively as a child, winning several state titles. I gave it up when I was fifteen years old (I thought I was so old!). I barely ever hopped into the pool for the next 30 years or so. Recently I had a run of ill health that included cancer, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome and clinical depression, which all culminated in me fracturing my spine at the end of 2017.
As part of my back rehab, I started swimming laps but found it tough and incredibly boring. I decided to set myself a goal (to compete in the Tasmanian Masters State Championships in March 2018) to give myself some motivation and direction. When the day came and the starter’s gun went for my 50m freestyle I had such an amazing rush flood through my body! I had forgotten how much I loved to compete! I felt alive. I was home. I was hooked again.
Coming back to swimming after 30 odd years has really been like coming home!
At that meet, I missed the Masters state record in the 50m breaststroke by 0.3 of a second (with just 3 months of training) so there was no way I could let that go! I have since nabbed that record and several more (including one held by Shane Gould) and am healthier and happier than I have ever been.
Awakening My Inner Data Nerd
When I first got back in the water, I was doing a training program set by the squad I still swim with. It was a fairly generic program, since most of my teammates are focused on ocean swimming and triathlons.
I found a MySwimPro blog on USRPT one night and that really got my attention and made me think about the training I was doing. Of course, I realized I needed the app too! So I went from flailing along doing lots of distance sets with the squad to far more customized workouts focusing on speed work for freestyle, butterfly and my favorite stroke, breaststroke. I am a sprinter so you will never catch me doing much more than a kilometer in any session!
Related: What is USRPT?
As I always say you can’t manage what you can’t measure! I love that I can see my times and stroke counts. I keep a spreadsheet looking at things like distance per stroke. As I don’t have a coach, MySwimPro app gives me lots of feedback to work on.
Pre-COVID-19 I was swimming 5 times per week. I have also got my husband joining me now which is great!
Get 20% off MySwimPro ELITE with code GABRIELLE20!
Related: How to Set SMART Goals
I currently hold 6 Masters state records and I would LOVE to hold an Australian record. I am closest in the 50m breaststroke, but I’m still about 2.5 seconds off. I like to use the hashtag #IUsedToBeFasterButNowIAmAMaster…but who knows, one day I might be faster than I was more than 30 years ago! My goals for the next year are:
- Hit my target times for my 3 50m events. Hopefully I can take another of Shane Gould’s records!
- Set one Australian Masters national record. I am currently ranked 2nd or 3rd in Australia across my 3 strokes. It would be nice to be number one!
- Compete at the World Masters next year.
And I want to enjoy it all! To remember it is a privilege.
Breaking Aging Stereotypes
As a child, I was told so many things about aging that are so untrue! On a daily basis I challenge my own stereotypes of what ‘aging’ means. This includes setting challenges for myself, such as learning to do a chin up, box jumps (I was terrified to jump at first!), handstands… and even the electric worm! I also started olympic weightlifting twelve months ago and enjoy CrossFit and boxing classes. I am actually trying to better the times I did as a child, with way less training volume now, but far more quality thanks to MySwimPro!
Related: I’m 65 Years Old — Here’s How Swimming Keeps Me Healthy
I am actually trying to better the times I did as a child, with way less training volume now, but far more quality thanks to MySwimPro!
I like to read non-fiction books particularly on high performance, productivity and resilience. I also love naps and have one every day – definitely a perk of working from home.
One of my daughters has a chronic illness that I have to manage – she has been hospitalized twice and I think in these dark moments as well as my own, I realized that I want to go out and live my best life and really challenge myself. I am an eternal optimist who always looks for the good in everything. I love to laugh and keep things in perspective. And after a few difficult years for me and my family I try to be grateful for every new day I am given.
Mental Health Benefits
Swimming helps me in so many ways – obviously the physical benefits, but also the mental health benefits. Getting back to swimming has literally saved my life.
When my daughter was first hospitalized in 2016, I clearly recall laying next to her in the hospital bed, staring up at the ceiling with hot tears streaming down my face. Scared that she wouldn’t make it. Knowing that our lives were changed forever. I sunk into a deep depression and didn’t find much in life to look forward to for many months. I was overwhelmed with how to care for her and terrified of what might lay ahead.
Related: 10 Health Benefits of Swimming
Eventually I took steps to do what I could do to get better (engaged a psychologist, etc.), but it has really been getting back into swimming that has been the sustaining positivity in my life. I love training hard and having a goal to work toward. I love diving into the water and entering a different world, a break from the pressures of the ‘normal’ world and running my own business. I love competing (though I am also terrified by it sometimes!). I love challenging myself. I love that at 51 I am still trying to master my technique…something that will be lifelong I suspect. I love all the faces of the squad I train with (as I bounce around at the end of the pool in their way while they do lap after lap). Coming back to swimming after 30 odd years has really been like coming home!
My Tips for New Swimmers
- Brush up on technique: If you’re someone that trained when you were much younger, it’s definitely worth revisiting…well, everything! The stroke techniques have changed, the starts and turns have changed and the training methods have changed. I have found Fares’ Whiteboard Wednesdays incredibly helpful. As I said above, I rarely swim more than 1k per session, but my times are improving thanks to my better understanding of technique and the feedback from MySwimPro.
- Something is always better than nothing: Even on those days you don’t feel like it, go swim a few laps.
- Challenge your ideas around aging: Science shows that keeping fit really does stop the clock. Don’t give up on your body – feed it well, rest it well and it will happily train hard for you!
Follow Gabrielle’s swimming journey on Instagram at @gabosborne. To check out the Workouts that helped Gabrielle get back into swimming, download the MySwimPro app! Try MyswimPro ELITE to unlock all of our swim training and dryland training resources. Get 20% off with code GABRIELLE20.
I totally agree with what you have said and the benefits of USRPT. It too changed my life after having two children and at jumping back into the pool at 44! The pool has been the best Pyschologist and with USRPT I have never enjoyed swimming so much in my life.
Unfortunately my coach moved on from our local pool and I have started swimming with a new coach who does generic lots of distance swimming. Great enthusiastic coach with lots of swim experience. I have chosen to go back to this method due to the love of swimming with our squad. However my body does not feel the same with so much distance and I am missing the energy. My body felt like a wound up spring with USRPT now I feel good and fit but not the same. The app is tempting but I still love my swim buddies.
It’s great to hear that you’ve found a training method that works for you, and that you have such great swim buddies!
Great advice. I’m praying for your daughter