Get to know: Heather Witcombe

My name is Heather Witcombe, I’m 19 years old and currently going into my second year studying Sport Rehabilitation Therapy at UWE.

What sport do you train in?

My sport is Swimming, and I train with Soundwell swimming club. The reason I love swimming is because it’s both a team and an individual sport. Primarily competitions are based on individual performance which allows you to learn to take ownership of your success and failures. But the training environment and my club is team based and is full of support. My sport is an escape from the stress of life where I can focus on myself and pushing my boundaries and nothing else.

Pictured: Heather Witcombe

Why did you choose to study at UWE Bristol?

I chose to study at UWE Bristol, as the campuses are so full of nature and very aesthetically pleasing, and the course on offer was most suited to the career path I wish to pursue. The overall atmosphere of the students living on, and off campus is so welcoming and friendly.

What do you like about living in Bristol?

Bristol is a city full of culture: from the suspension bridge to Banksy’s street art or the museum in town there is so much to see. Alongside that the nightlife here is always energetic and teeming with people. I think this city has things for every type of person and it’s very inclusive for students both who live here and who have moved here for university!

What is great about the performance sport programme?

The performance sport programme has been a lifeline of support for me during my first year at university. I started my year with a back injury, which left me concerned that I might be dropped from the programme as I wouldn’t be performing at my best, but their support was endless! They provided sport rehab therapy and massage for my back. My strength and conditioning coach Adam has worked tirelessly with me in Wallscourt gym to help me gradually get back to where I wanted to be. It’s an amazing programme and I’d recommend any elite athlete looking to studying at UWE to apply!

What is your biggest sporting achievement?

I would say my biggest sporting achievement so far would be getting selected to be a part of the DISE programme 2018-2020. This was ran by Swim England where the top 1% of swimmers in the country aged 16-17 were picked to do an extended diploma in sporting excellence and represent England in an international competition in Dubai of February 2020. In that competition I got silver in the 50 Backstroke: coming away with not only a medal but an incredible experience. Aside from that I also won the junior final at the British swimming championships in 2019 – coming away with 3rd place overall in all juniors. I’ve had many achievements and enriching experiences but those have to be the most exhilarating by far!

How do you stay motivated?

Motivation has been something I really struggled with in the last year or so. With lockdown preventing my sport from being able to train in the pool at all for nearly a year on and off: and the government not allowing over 18s to go back at the same time as everyone else I lost motivation quite quickly. Lockdown was very isolating and with my injury and not being able to see my teammates for moral support I lost nearly all my fitness, so starting back up again was extremely difficult.

The thing that kept me going and sparked my drive again was the sport performance team and my own mental health. The Performance Sport programme gave me access to the gym and allowed me to gain strength and fitness much faster than if I was alone. I also had to spend a couple of months working on thinking more positively and enjoying the here and now: dwelling less on the future and whether I will be where I need to be for this competition and more on just taking things day by day allowed me to slowly enjoy my sport again. By the time I got back to the point where I could compete again my drive and thirst for success was back!

My advice would be: enjoy what you have currently. Always keep your goals in mind, but ensure that they motivate you, not worry you. The second they start to be a burden take a step back and re-evaluate your goals. 

Sometimes you need to take a couple steps backward to take a bigger leap forward.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: