Aquatics activity has been largely on hold over the last couple of months, but that hasn’t stopped Holly Hibbott planning for the future.
That being said, the European and Commonwealth medallist is happy to admit that life in lockdown hasn’t all been plain sailing.
“It’s been a little bit of struggle actually; my mum tested positive for corona virus a couple of weeks ago - she works for the NHS, so the last couple of weeks have been a little bit different. She is a physio and usually works with outpatients, but they moved her onto a ward as it was busier in the hospitals. She got put on the ward she was working on for a couple of weeks and then came down with it and she was pretty ill - she was in bed for about a week.
“I got advised not to do any training just in case I contracted the virus, because it can have effects on your health later on, but I got back into training yesterday and I am just slowly building it up again. It’s been a bit different.”
For a lot of people up and down the country, the virus hasn’t really had a tangible effect on their lives, other than the obvious lockdown limitations, but an incident so close to home really opened Holly’s eyes.
“When that happened it became more real; I think a lot of people don’t see it necessarily as a proper real thing as it hasn’t affected them, but I think from then it really opened my eyes to it.
“You never think that it would ever come to your household and how it would affect your family and things - you just don’t actually know how it’s going to affect you. It’s been difficult, but she’s definitely on the mend now, which is good.”
In the past week a number of events have followed in the Olympics’ footsteps in setting revised dates, but Hibbott admits it’s something she’s not putting too much focus on.
“Yes, I saw a couple of things that came out a couple of days ago but for me now it’s just about focusing on the Olympics, which, well for now they are definitely on – so for now it’s just about training towards and getting myself right for that.
“Obviously it’s disappointing for everyone that it has been postponed and for me I was training really well up until trials got cancelled, so I was a little bit disappointed I didn’t get to show what I had then, because I was training so well. But I know at the back of my mind I can get back to that place, so it’s just all about as soon as we can get back into training and as soon as it’s safe to do so, just getting back to there really.
“I think everyone can benefit from another year of training and you can just make yourself better and better every year, so that’s what I will be trying to do this year.”
The first step in that process of self-improvement is that once lockdown is lifted, the freestyler will be relocating to Bath and taking up a spot at the Bath National Centre to train with Dave McNulty and his group. So just how did that move come about and how excited is she to get started?
“I am really excited to get started – I have worked with Dave on a few British teams for the last three or four years, so we have got to know each other a little bit there and I really like the way he works and the way he really pushes swimmers. He is really motivating, so I think that will be a good move for me and I am really looking forward to it.”
McNulty has a clear track record of guiding his athletes to results over a number of Olympiads, and presumably that’s why Holly wanted to join forces with the Bath coach and try and take that next step up?
“Yes, definitely, and he’s coached people who swim my event and he has got success with people in my event, so I see that as a positive. I think just being coached by someone with a slightly different perspective will be something that might help me as well.”
So without letting the cat out of the bag, is there anything that Holly and Dave have talked about that they need to work on straight away?
“We haven’t actually! We have a Zoom call next week so I am sure we will discuss more then!”
In the meantime, the 20 year has been making the most of the extra time afforded to her.
“I’ve also been doing a lot more cardio, as last season I started running more so I have been carrying on doing that. I’ve been using other equipment too – I’ve got a ski erg, which I really enjoy using and is something different!
“I’ve also been taking my dogs out more! I’ve just been spending time with family as well to be honest. I moved away from home when I was 16, so I’ve not actually spent a long period of time at home, so it’s been nice to spend some time with them.”