Four years ago, as part of my blogging role at Glasgow 2014, I took part in a Do More campaign with Strathmore Water and Star Pupil was born.
I was quite possibly the worst swimmer in the pool (or any pool) with Olympian Robbie Renwick. I could barely swim, so Star Pupil was my way of making fun of my inadequacies but also a way to celebrate my never ending desire to do more and to try more.
Over the years, I have enjoyed opportunities which I probably haven’t fully deserved but which I have fully embraced.
Being a Try Athlete has been a lot of fun and I have met many amazing athletes and inspirational people along the way with Star Pupil making various appearances.
While 2017 was not my finest year, 2018 has started more positively and Swimathon has given me a new lease of life. Although progress has been slow, my weight is falling and my swimming prowess is improving (albeit at an even slower rate).
So, when I found out that I was one of the winners in a Strathmore Water competition to swim with DoMore ambassador and Olympian, Ross Murdoch, I saw it as an opportunity to learn from yet another champion and to bring out Star Pupil once again.
The swimming session with Ross and Tollcross coach Danielle was tremendous fun and provided me with some additional areas to focus on (namely my kicks). Ross instructed us in such a calm and relaxed way with nothing, other than him, flying over our heads.
However, it was the Do More Q & A sessions with Ross that were the real highlight of the day.
Not only did he reveal that the secret to being a successful swimmer is to actually Do Less (i.e. be more efficient in every aspect of your technique), he also shared his memories of his successes; the feeling of walking out into the Tollcross pool area to the rapturous applause of the crowd and he spoke openly about his lows and the psychological support he needed.
In 2014, he was on top of the world and then in 2015 he developed glandular fever before experiencing a disappointing, by his standards at least, 2016 when he failed to qualify for the Olympic 100 metres Breaststroke final and thoughts of retiring entered his head. Looking at the confident, athletic and very funny Ross speaking before us, it was difficult to imagine him suffering the same insecurities and fears that many of us do.
And it was his answer to how he got back on track that resonated most with me.
He reminded himself that he loved swimming. He stepped back from worrying about the numbers and instead, he focused on enjoying his time in the pool. How many of us judge ourselves too often on the numbers on the scales; the steps on our Garmins and Fitbits and the metres that we swim, cycle and run?
We can all Do More, but we also have more fun doing so.
If I am to continue losing my added weight, swim 5K at Swimathon, conquer the Bishopbriggs Sprint Triathlon (a week later) and complete the #LetsMoveForABetterWorld challenge , I will have to make sure that I continue to have fun swimming, cycling and running while not allowing my fears and insecurities to derail me.
I also have to take heed of Ross’ advise on goal setting. On the 22nd August 2011, he sat down with his coach, Jimmy Orr, and identified the time, 2:07.5, that he would need to achieve to be the best in the world and over the next 3 years, he focused on making this a reality. Together, they determined and wrote down the goals that Ross would need to commit to and in the 200 Metre Breaststroke final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games he broke the Commonwealth Games record with 2:07.3.
From dreaming of competing at the Commonwealth Games, he instead became our champion and an inspiration to so many and I am sure that we all wish him, and all of Team Scotland, the very best of success in the the Gold Coast, where the 2018 Commonwealth Games kicks off in a few weeks.
But closer to home, let us look at how we can Do More and also how we can set realistic but stretching goals that excite us and make us want to be the very best versions of ourselves.
2018 is going to be the year that I Do More. It is going to be the year that I start having fun again and over the next few weeks, I am going to sit down with my family and decide what my goals are going to be for the next few years.
How will you Do More and what goals have you or will you set?