Friday, March 25, 2016

Beneath the Surface of Masters: Jonny Borland (Warrender Masters)

We are looking deeper into the lives and personalities at the heart of the Scottish Masters community through our ‘Beneath The Surface’ feature. 

Enjoy our next interview with Masters swimmer Jonathan Borland. Jonathan Borland is a 29 year old working with a Private Equity Company. He swims with Warrender Masters.

Tell us about your swimming journey 

I was quite a serious swimmer when I was at school, but when I was fourteen I tried target shooting and quickly realised I was better at shooting than I was at swimming.  When I was sixteen I felt I had to choose and so opted for shooting.  I’ve toured abroad twice with GB, shot at the World Championships and I’ve shot for Scotland on some level pretty much for the last fifteen years.

How did you get into Masters?

I started swimming again about five years ago to keep fit and then I went to see a swimming competition and realised that I missed the buzz of racing and galas and competition and all the training that goes with it, so I headed along to Warrender and joined and have been swimming every week ever since.

What Masters Training do you do?

I do strength and conditioning training out of the pool every morning and I train in the pool three or four times a week.  I still shoot as well, but that is an outdoor summer sport and manage to fit both in pretty well.

What is the highest level you’ve competed at?

This year I’m competing at the Scottish Nationals, the European Championship in May and then the British Short Course Championships in October.  At the Europeans I’m competing in the 50m breaststroke, the 50m free, the 50m butterfly and then medley and freestyle events.  The butterfly is a bit of a punt for me and I’m pretty fast in training, but I have no high expectation in that one.  That’s one of the great things about Masters – you can try different things and enter all sorts of competitions.

What do you love about swimming?

I love that feeling you get when you head out of the pool after training and you’re completely exhausted, but know you’ve worked so hard that you had nothing left you could have given.  I love being able to go swimming with people I know who like having a laugh.  Swimming was so much more serious when I was a teenager and the focus was all on competitiveness.  That aspect is still there, but much more pleasurable when its mixed with fun and laugher. 

What do you hate about swimming?

Wet kit!  That and sometimes when you’re not feeling well or you are knackered after a day at work, when you really just can’t face going and training for an hour and a half, and you have to get in the car when it is freezing cold in the winter and drive through rush hour traffic to get to training and then get in the freezing pool and try to find the energy to get going.  That can be tough, but you know you’re going to feel rewarded at the end, which is totally worth it.    Whenever I feel that I can’t be bothered training I try to focus on how good I’ll feel at the end of it.

What are you most proud of in your swimming?

That I’m faster now that I ever was when I was a teenager.  I think that is down to having a drive and determination that you don’t have when you’re a teenager.  The strength and conditioning exercises I do every day also help a lot. 

What are you most proud of out of the pool?

I’m very happy with my lot in life.  I’ve got a good job, a wonderful fiancée and we’ve just moved into a lovely new flat.  My school motto was “We bear the fortunes of youth” and I feel that now more than I ever have before, because everything is good, everything feels in place and I’m still young enough to enjoy it and be fit and active.  I feel very content that I’ve done well so far.

What would you say to recreational swimmers thinking about Masters?

I imagine it could be a little bit intimidating if you see Masters Swimmers pounding up and down the pool really fast if you’re not as fast.  It is easy to say just do it, but everybody is so friendly and up for meeting and helping new people.  There are swimmers of all standards, people in our club who are competing at European level and then there are those just trying to keep fit and have a bit of fun.  There are 18 year olds, and ninety year olds swimming together. 

What are your top tips to being a better swimmer? 

Be efficient.  The more efficient you are, the better swimmer you will be because you are not wasting energy in, say, swimming at the wrong angle in the water.  Concentrate.  It is easy to fall into bad habits when you are tired and then you let your technique slip.  Enjoy it.  If you enjoy swimming, you will do it more often.  If you don’t enjoy swimming, you’ll eventually stop going.  I’ve been there;  I didn’t enjoy swimming when I was a teenager and packed it in and then regretted it.  I had to find a way to enjoy swimming again and joining a Masters Club helped me find that way.  

Coaching can improve your swimming wonderfully. When I got together with my fiancé Kelly, we came to the Commonwealth Pool for a bit of a paddle. I was trying to impress her, she was trying to impress me and she could just about do breast stroke but it was terrible.  We fixed that and then went swimming a bit more, I gave her some tips, she started swimming in her own time and then she has now joined a Masters Club.  This is a girl who could just about manage 50m breaststroke with her head out of the water and now she plans to compete in a 50m breaststroke later in the year.


After hearing from Jonathan about fiancée Kelly’s swimming journey, we caught up with her to hear her side of the story.  You can read Kelly’s story below:

Kelly Hughes is a 32 year old Digital Manager with the Royal Bank of Scotland.  Kelly was purely a recreational swimmer until she met fiancé Jonathan.  

Tell us about your swimming journey

My mum can’t swim, so she was keen for me to learn.  But because she can’t swim, that limited the amount of time I spent in the water as a child.  I had lessons until I was five, but that was it.  We moved to Sweden when I was young and swimming wasn’t really a big thing – everything centred on winter sports like skiing.  I did do tennis for ten years, which was great fun.  As an adult, I really only swam when on holiday or occasionally when I didn’t feel like going to the gym. 

So you meet Jonathan and swimming was a big part of his life, what happened then?

We’re both really sporty and like mountain biking and hillwalking and skiing and going jogging together.  Jonathan swims and his mum is a swimming coach and I went with them to a few competitions and just started to think it was something I would like to try.  Jonathan and I got into a routine of going to the Commonwealth Pool on a Sunday and then going for lunch afterwards.  Having somebody show you what you could do better is a great help but I was starting from a pretty basic level. I could only really swim breaststroke with my head out of the water.  Now I can do it much better with my head in the water.  I’m also getting better at frontcrawl and backstroke. About six months ago Jonathan suggested I go along to Masters and I thought ‘I’m improving, but I’m not that good. I found the idea quite intimidating because swimming had only been part of my life for a couple of years, but I just decided to give it a go. 

How are you enjoying Masters?

I swim in the slowest lane but I know my swimming has changed so much. I’ve gone from being barely able to do the breaststroke to three different strokes. I’ve got an aim were I want to do butterfly as I am always in awe when I see people doing it. I don’t understand how people can do it, it just looks so difficult. I can now do a lot more. I would say I am relatively ok at swimming for someone who started so late. I didn’t really do that many club sports as a child growing up. I went to an expat school in Sweden so we didn’t really do any club sport, so it’s not something I was really familiar with, but it is great to get better and see others get better and have a bit of a chit chat along the way. Masters is really good. 

If you had to rank all the sports you do in order of preference, where is swimming for you? 

It’s probably my favourite. I do it twice a week and I think it’s such a good all round sport to do. When I started to do it I was training for a half marathon and it really improved my time, because it was really helping with my breathing technique. I really enjoy it. My core fitness level has vastly improved. I do a lot of weights in the gym and I have done so many half marathons and it just puts so much pressure on your joints so it’s nice to do something that is po impact. I always exercise in the morning and when I swim up and down I can think about what I’ve got to do in a day and just get lost in it and relax and enjoy it.

And you are going to try and take part in some competitions?

I think I’ll do the East District Masters at the end of the year.  Jonathan and I are fairly competitive, so when I see him doing something really well it encourages me and he’s got quite a few competitions coming up this year so I’ve no doubt I’ll get even more into the competitive side of Masters and sign up for more in the future. 

What would you say to somebody considering Masters?

When I went to competitions as a spectator I struggled to read the programme and while I loved swimming, I found Masters quite intimidating.  But then I started to ask questions and found everybody was really friendly and really helpful. It’s also good to swim with others because when you swim by yourself, you don’t swim as well as you do when you’re trying not to hold others back. The social element is also great fun, so I’d say give it a go – you’ll really enjoy it. 


Jonny and Kelly were interviewed by Chris Kane. Read more Swim Social Blogs/Interviews here