British Paralympic swimmer Grace Harvey has to juggle training for her sport as well as a day job.
Despite this Grace has been successful in her swimming career by winning a European medal and currently holds the record for the European 200m Individual Medley.
Grace, as all athletes are finding at the moment, is having to adjust to a new way of life.
“I have had to readjust my training so that I am doing gym three times a week at home and a cycle session that I do five times a week and a little bit of quad work.” she said.
Having to play sport and keep down a day job can be difficult at times, but Grace has adapted well to this.
“I find the balance works really well. “Sport can be highly demanding but having my job has allowed me to do everything normal in a way.” I even have to do eight hours of work every two weeks, so the balance just works with me.” “I love the opportunity given to me and I love the people that I work with in the lab as well.”
Grace, like so many others were building up to the forthcoming Paralympics and was sad that it had to be called off.
“Massive disappointment” she said “As the Paralympic games comes around every four years and training was going so well. But it was the right decision to make at the right time and I’m fully in support of it to be delayed for a year and it is another year of training in the bag so who knows as for all athletes it will be one more year under their belts.”
Another blow to Grace was the cancellation of the recent British Par Swimming Meet.
“That was meant to be our trials, we were about three weeks out from that meet before lockdown happened, you get all excited and training for months and months and months and then we were told it was off.”
Grace joined fellow athletes in a training camp in Japan earlier this year.
“We went to Suzuka Japan for three weeks in January which was like a simulation camp and honestly it was one of the best camps that I’ve been on.” “We stayed at the location we would have been staying at for the games and it was just amazing to train for so many different athletes.”
Grace also had a unique chance to try on something for the first time in Japan, which turned out to be a robotic suit.
“We were invited to the Suzuka medical university.” she said. “Japan have an ageing population and they were looking at something that could help them, so I was asked if I would like to participate and try it on and I said yes definitely. It was a suit with some wires which picks up the messages in your brain and allows the leg muscles to walk. “It was the first time that I had ever stood up flat and to experience what an able-bodied life was like was completely indescribable.” It was an opportunity I never thought I would have, and I was on cloud nine.”
Grace has joined up with a group of fellow female Paralympians and is currently on a very popular Wattsapp group called Para Queens.
“It was nice to see everyone having the same focus as me and we help each other out.” she said. Will Grace keep in touch with her fellow athletes after lockdown finishes. “I definitely hope so” she says. “Especially when we go to the games and to know that everybody was on that group chat routing for each other as this is a lifelong friendship chat to support each other’s sporting gold as everybody is in the same boat and just want to push each other on.”
Grace feels that Paralympic sport has improved the past few years and puts it down to parasport getting more promotion by various outlets.
“I think it’s just the publicity with media and technology that everybody has a greater understanding. “There are more high-profile Paralympians out there at the moment. “London 2012 was really the turning point by getting para sport out there. “The promoting of parasport is just phenomenal for getting people into the grass roots of the sport.”
Interview with Grace Harvey