Guest blog: Lindsay Sutherland + the University of Toronto's Olympic-sized pool

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The internet can be a magical place, and through my Twitter posts about this swimming blog, I e-met a kindred spirit, Lindsay Sutherland – another swim-and-book-loving Lindsay. I love following her swim-ventures and we're lucky enough to have her guest post about her swimming world – Master's swimming, recovering from injuries and returning to swimming (that sounds familiar!)

Welcome, Lindsay!

Where did you swim: I swim at the Athletic Complex at University of Toronto, in the Olympic sized pool.

Do you swim here often? 
I swim here weekly – with the Toronto Masters swim team (technically we are called 'Toronto Masters of the Universe', or ‘TMU’ – but the whole name is kind of embarrassing!)

How did you first learn about this swimming hole? 
I've been coming to the U of T pool since I was 13 years old - I used to train with Ajax Aquatic Club and our Sunday morning practices were held here.

What was it like? 
Very cold and chlorinated - just like I like it!

Water texture/temp/colour: Clean, blue and in the 70s

What colour is your bathing suit (or was it a skinny-dipping situation?)
Crrently my ‘indoor pool’ swim suit is a plain black TYR training suit.

Sand/rock bottom? Weeds/no weeds? 
Lovely tile with lane lines and TORONTO spelled out below me.

What is your swimming style? 
My preference is mostly freestyle – but with some backstroke lengths when possible within a practice.  I am also a sprinter as opposed to a distance swimmer – so I prefer to train in sets of shorter, faster intervals than longer distances.

How did you get into the water? 
I dove in from the edge, after waiting a respectable 7 seconds after the swimmer in front of me.

What's your swimming story?
I have a love-hate-love relationship with swimming.  I was always the kid who dreaded going to swimming lessons, until the moment I got into the pool – then I never wanted to get out. 

Summers and vacations were spent playing with my little sister in pools and just having fun – doing handstands, holding my breath for as long as I could and ‘flipping’ our hair in fun styles. 

When we moved to a new town when I was in 7th grade, I tried out for a swim team instead of taking more lessons, not knowing I was getting into a competitive atmosphere.  It turned out I wasn’t too bad at it, so I stuck with it.  From age 11 to age 18 I moved up the ranks of the club until I was training 9-10 times a week with Olympic hopefuls under a very strong coach who had been with Anne Ottenbrite when she represented Canada at the Olympics in 1984. Swimming took over my life and the practices took over most of my days, but I loved my team mates, I loved going fast in the pool and I wanted to win big one day. I wore my swim coat proudly and was known as ‘the swimmer’ at my high school – who almost always had wet hair.  When I was 17 my body started protesting more than the usual sore shoulders – and I started going to a chiro and physio more and more and swimming less and less as I tried to heal.  When I was able to go to the pool, I dreaded practice – all it meant was pain and frustration with my self, my coach, and my body.  When it was suggested by one of my doctors that my body would not recover while I was still training, and when I was kicked out of one too many practices for being unable to complete a butterfly set, I made the hard decision to leave the sport. 

In my mid-20s I realized that I really missed swimming and decided to look into masters swim clubs.  I found out that the University of Toronto Masters team swam out of the same pool where I spent my Sundays as a kid – and so I signed up and in no time was racing again. I don’t swim 9 times a week anymore (sometimes I am lucky if I get one practice in!), but it gives my life some balance and the beauty of it is that it’s (mostly) pain and injury free.  In 2014 I went to the World Masters Championships in Montreal, QC – which has been the highlight of my ‘adult’ swimming life so far.  

Whether out at DD Summerville Pool for outside summer practices, or inside at UofT, I feel completely at home in a pool.  I am lucky enough to have some great teammates and coaches that make each practice fun and make me feel like I am 16 years old again.  I hope I keep swimming and competing for as long as I can – it’s a sport that never gets old and keeps you young.

Thanks so much, Lindsay!! This totally inspires me to join a Masters Club one of these days...

Lindsay Sutherland is a backstroke and freestyle sprinter who swims with TMU, and is a proud member of the TCLES relay team.  She also is a proud mom to a 4 year old who just successfully swam a whole lap of his teach pool unassisted!  She is most at home in chlorine and most scared of weeds tickling her feet in lakes.

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