Streamline Fitness

About Kathy

About Kathy

I have been involved in activity, dance, sport and fitness all my life. I have 15 years in the fitness industry combined with 20 years of competing at the elite levels of swimming at Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth levels.

My extensive knowledge and expertise spans through the many varied levels of fitness both from an Olympic athletes perspective through to the recreational sportsperson to the unconditioned client or injured and chronically affected client.

My fitness knowledge base began at a very young age as from the age of three I attended my first ballet lesson and loved the feeling of moving my body to become stronger and more flexible. This brought me to an understanding of the way a dancer needed to control their body to be very powerful and strong but at the same time be graceful, elegant, agile and light on their feet.
I’m sure I was not destined to be a professional dancer, as I was fairly tall for my age with a bigger frame than perhaps was needed for dance. I did however continue my dance training until I was 11years old, performing in shows in tap, ballet and modern dance and I almost reached wearing the ballet points which I had so wanted to experience! However it was not to be dance that brought me the challenge of pushing my body to its limits.

Kathy SwimmingMy interest in swimming came along from being taken swimming as a baby in the most amazing outdoor, 50 yard, heated swimming pool close to my home in Gorleston –on –sea in Norfolk. My older twin brothers were both able to swim with the local swimming club so at the age of five I followed on and joined Great Yarmouth swimming club. My talent quickly shone through as I progressed over a few years of age group competitions I attended around the country to entering my first National age group championships at the age of ten and winning my first title by  leven years old.

By eleven  years old I had developed a rapid desire to spend more time in the water training to become a competitive swimmer. I was training three early mornings a week before school. Then after school (ending at 4 p.m)  five evening swim sessions at Norwich which was a sixty mile round trip. Training was at 5-7 p. m , returning home by 8p.m, then being very tired, trying to attempt to complete my school homework . It was a hard slog.
The pool we trained in was a wooden hut with, no lane ropes in the pool, no toilets changing rooms or ventilation and we spent many hours struggling and coughing excessively from the chlorine fumes that were churned up whilst training. This meant I spent sometimes the journey home recovering from these tough conditions

My arrival on the international swimming scene began as I qualified for the European youth team in 1982 at the age of 13 and by 1983 whilst still 13 years old I was awarded my first Senior cap. I was so excited to be able to think I’d jumped from Junior swimming to Senior team status so quickly.
However my elation was short lived. A few days after being selected, in April 1983, I became violently ill with Appendicitus that had actually become peritonitis . I was rushed at midnight into an emergency operation to save my life. It was a more complex operation as the appendix had ruptured.
I was unable to swim for three and a half months, partly due to being very unwell after the operation and the consultant suggesting that I take three months out of the swimming pool. I had hardly ever been out of the water for three days, let alone three months and it was an agonising wait both mentally and physically. I was sore and still unwell as the larger than normal scar had been infected and needed time to heal properly. My father and brother took me swimming for the first time back to the pool and I was able to complete tentatively half a length. That was it. The water felt surreal around my scar but like a long lost friend hugging me to return.

I was able to gradually build both my fitness and my confidence , all in my own time , but by  late July ( only a month after starting back swimming) I was asked to swim as the team captain in the youth team against Italy . I won two gold medals to my and the teams suprise.
The following year February 1984, I was able to take up my senior team honours in an international meet against West Germany , I swam an Olympic consideration time and set a British Junior record.

The Olympic trials were in May, I felt very nervous and not sure I could make the team although many coaches were of the opinion I would maybe break the British Senior record on the 200 back this time. I overcame my nerves and stayed calm and I achieved both of these goals. I made the Olympic Games at the age of 14years old, winning the 200 Backstroke, the second to last event of the entire Olympic trials programme.

The Olympic games were a few months after and it was difficult to stay calm and wait such a long time before competing at the end of swimming programme. I finished 11th at the Los Angeles Olympics in the 200 Back . For me this was a most incredible but nerve racking experience . I felt disappointed with the result but I took home a wealth of experience and happy memories.

After the Olympics there is always a flat feeling inside so new goals must be set for the following season starting in September which should have been another exciting year. But by the end of the year I was extremely ill and had to be taken to a specialist Professor in London to help me regain wellness and health. I was suffering with a very serious strong virus of Glandular fever. Again I had to stay out of the water for many weeks and months to regain my health. I became ill in November 1984 and it took me until April 1985 to be fully recovered.

I again was unsure of what I could achieve but I had an amazing senior National championships, winning the 400 Individual Medley, 100 and 200 Back and the sports writers award for outstanding performances at those nationals. I also competed in the European long course championships in Sofia Bulgaria but struggled with a severe bout of food poisoning and this affected my performances.

Kathy Read

It was not only the Commonwealth Games the next year, 1986 but also my exam year at senior school. I had missed a great amount of schooling before my O’level exams with having glandular fever and also missing so much swimming training that I really thought I would not be swimming in the Commonwealth games the next year let alone returning with a silver medal in the 200 backstroke.

My international swimming career was well and truly underway and lasted for many more years, with appearances at all the major Games, world and European championships, another two Olympics, two more Commonwealth games including another silver medal and bronze .
I competed internationally for Great Britain until I was 29 in many other international meets and I also amassed the greatest amount of British individual senior titles ever: 44 titles.

However all of this was fraught with many interruptions, lack of funding and no sponsorship, loss of training due to injuries of my neck, back and hip, many severe colds and flu’s and periods of overtraining. Many of these obstacles appeared at crucial moments in my career and made the journey to my achievements much more challenging but at the same time satisfying to have overcome so many problems with my determination and focus to keep on driving forward and winning.

Unfortunately I was injured at the end of my career and unable to cope with the demands of the high level training, meaning I would probably not qualify for any more major games. I had the opportunity to swim for two separate French swimming clubs, Clichy team and then Caen which gave me a chance to stay in swimming but without the pressure of fulfilling the extensive training requirements. It was however a difficult decision to let go of the training regime and elite level competitions, both physically and mentally this had a very negative effect on me.

It was even harder and traumatic to make the dramatic step of saying goodbye to the sport that I had known all my life. This period at the end of my career caused me many years of depression, loneliness, extremely low self worth, loss of identity and struggle to find where and what I was going to be for the next part of my life.

I did not feel my life was worth anything. I had finished my swimming career because I was unable to drive my body to the high levels of training but my mind was frustrated as I still had the motivation and desire to compete.

I knew that the only way I was going to survive the transition from elite full-time swimmer to a life  without elite level sport was to turn my back on who I was and try and find the new person that I could be without using my swimming career as a crutch.

My interest in fitness had always been there and because of being injured throughout my swimming career with an imbalance of over-trained and undertrained muscle groups that caused the injuries. It lead to my interest in Pilates as I had been given Rehabilitation muscle balance exercises in 1994 when I had severe spasm in my Ilio-psoas muscle in my right hip with a sacroiliac dysfunction in my back. These exercises initially worked like magic as they healed my neck injury I had trained with painfully for many years and the muscle balance started to strengthen my shoulders, hips and back but unfortunately not enough to make a real difference in my training.

However as the last years passed in my swimming career I realised to really make a difference to my body it needed a break from swimming. I also needed to give some real serious time and attention to my understanding of anatomy and how I could use this knowledge to take myself out of the hip pain I was left with and also how I could help others to overcome and heal with similar injuries.
I qualified in 1999 as a personal trainer, gym instructor and Pilates mat teacher and so I started my new life away from the competitive arena I had been in all my life to start working with others in their varied lives.

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