Matt Richards managed to keep on swimming through lockdown last year — without leaving his back garden.
Faced with 10 weeks out of the water, the teenager spent £1,000 on a king-size paddling pool he bought on the internet and set it up on his lawn.
The 18-year-old attached a bungee rope to a hook on his garage, linked to a body harness and swam for two hours a day in what he described as ‘a swimming treadmill’.
Matt Richards is ready to take on the world’s fastest swimmers in the 100 metres freestyle
His reward for battling through icy temperatures and boredom in his 5 x 3 metre, one-metre deep pool were two Welsh records and a dream ticket to Tokyo to tackle the world’s fastest swimmers in the 100 metres freestyle.
‘When lockdown was announced I had to go home to the Midlands from my training base in Bath. When I heard I wasn’t going to be able to train in the water I thought I was going to go insane,’ said Richards, the European Junior 100 freestyle champion.
‘I went online and found myself what was essentially a massive paddling pool and put it up outside the garage in my back garden.
The 18-year-old managed to keep on swimming through lockdown last year
‘I attached a bungee rope to the garage wall and tied it to a harness on the other end that I wore in the paddling pool. Then I spent hours every day just swimming stationary.
‘It was essentially a swimming treadmill, but that’s how I got through the first 10 weeks when we were out of the pool.
‘It allowed me to maintain my feel for the water, kept me fit and, from a psychological point of view, helped keep me sane.’
Richards attached a body harness to a bungee rope and swam for two hours a day