Thursday, March 24, 2016

Beneath The Surface of Masters with Eddie Riach (Convener of Masters Committee)

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

Read our interview with Masters swimmer, 63 year old Property Developer Eddie Riach who is also Convener of Scottish Swimming’s Masters Committee.

When did you become a Masters swimmer?

I’ve been competing in swimming since I was young – I represented Scotland back in the early 1970s and competed for Great Britain at the 1973 World Student Games in Moscow.  I then did a few years in Water Polo before taking up Masters swimming in my early 30s. 

What does your training schedule involve?

At the moment I am training about four or five swims a week and a couple of times in the gym. I will do about three and a half thousand metres and twice a week I join the Milngavie and Bearsden squad and train with them and that makes me work harder.

Last time we spoke, you were training for the 2016 European Masters. How is that going?

It’s going quite well. I think because I am training in a squad situation a couple of times a week, that’s raised my intensity a lot. I swam with the Silver City Blues a couple of weeks ago and was pleased with the way I was swimming and with my stroke technique. I am not holding out hopes there will be medals, but I will be chasing them. There is going to be a huge number of entries at the event in London.  At the Commonwealth Games there was probably around 350 swimmers in total – at the European Masters there will be around 5,000.  That means a lot of planning for both swimmers and organisers – I suspect there will be a constant queue around the block for the toilets! 

What do you love about swimming?

I swim as much as I do so that I can eat and drink as much as I want and still stay fit.  I enjoy being with like-minded people when you’re swimming together with similar aims and objectives. 

What do you dislike about swimming?

I don’t dislike swimming, but I do dislike swimming when you’re unfit and trying to get fit.  It’s a painful road but ultimately you break through a fitness barrier and everything settles down.

What are you most proud about in the pool?

That I swim technically well and I am still swimming well in my 60s. I’ve always had a good technique and that’s helped me.

What do you do when you’re not swimming?

I’m a property developer – I look for underused or derelict sites and then take them through the planning process to build anything from houses to swimming pools to student accommodation to whatever is required.  No two days are the same and you don’t know what you’re going to find when you start work on site.  Also, given that it can take years from finding a site to cutting the ribbon on a new building, everything from recessions to changing ideas means each project is a fascinating journey. 

Tell us about some of the projects you’ve been involved with?

We once found an entire industrial building buried underground, complete with railway tracks and a forge.  It was an old ironworks in Lanarkshire and the walls were five metres high.  We were expecting to find industrial ruins, so it was a bit of a surprise when the diggers started.  In 1992 I was involved in the “Challenge Anneka” TV show where we helped turn a disused military building on Cumbrae into a residential holiday centre for kids.  The building was originally part of a series of listening posts trying to detect enemy submarines in the Clyde.   We’ve also build some swimming pools, including Kilsyth’s public swimming pool.

What would you say to recreational swimmers who are thinking about Masters?

Give it a try. You can dip into Masters swimming as much as you want and to what ever level of intensity you wish. It’s very social and you will keep fit.  Don’t be daunted because there’s an open door for everyone in masters.

What are your three top tips for swimmers?

Get slower, slower than the rest and hang onto your ability as long as you can. Always swim with technique – there is no point bashing or thrashing around in swimming.  And always be prepared to laugh at yourself if it all goes wrong!  

Eddie was interviewed by Chris Kane.  Read more Swim Social Blogs/Interviews here