Professional swimmer Jessica Fullalove

Competitive swimmer joins Angela’s Swim School

We were delighted when former international swimmer, Jessica Fullalove, joined Angela’s Swim School last year. Now, lessons have once again reopened and Jessica is well into her role. She shares how she came to swim for Team GB and what brought her to Angela’s Swim School.

“When I was about six my older brother joined a competitive swimming club. Watching him, he was having such a great time I was itching to get into the water too. I could swim by then and joined the next week. It was fantastic! I made great friends and am still close to many of them.
Jessica Fullalove Team GB swim squad
“Soon, I was swimming two sessions a week but didn’t think at the time that swimming would be my future as I loved all sports, particularly netball and athletics.

“When I was about 10 years old, I entered my first swimming competition and remember vividly that it was a 50m freestyle that I won in 33.66 seconds. I was thrilled just to have won it, and it was pointed out to my Dad that this was the sixth fastest time for my age. It left me and my family wondering if perhaps I was better at swimming than we had thought.”

So Jessie made the move to join the elite training squad, Oldham Aquatics, which meant five swim sessions a week and when at secondary school she added her first early start to this, which meant getting up at 4.30am for a 5am start. Something she maintained for the next five years before moving over to the City of Manchester Aquatic Swim Team.

“Now, I was making international competitions and committing to nine swim sessions a week. When I made the European Juniors at 14, I remember my Dad saying to me that it was time for my other sports to stop. To be honest, I wasn’t keen but I could see that my swimming had just gone to a new level. Overall, I had to admit that swimming was my greater strength and that my Dad was helping me make the right choice. So I ploughed everything into Manchester and had a brilliant time, seeing my swim times continue to drop.

“Then, the 2016 Olympic Trials came along and I was convinced I would make the team. But, it didn’t happen and this was a massive blow.”

Competiting professional swimmer

It was Jessica’s dad, Rod, who yet again suggested a bold move; why not move to another swim centre, start afresh and come into a new Olympic cycle.

“To be honest, I resisted this, a lot. I was happy and settled in Manchester, loved my team, had so many friends and was happy to be home. I was so adamant that I wouldn’t be leaving, however, when I went back to training after the Trials everything had changed. A lot of my teammates had retired or gone elsewhere and things just weren’t the same. So that decided me and I was ready to try somewhere new.”

That brought Jessica, just two weeks later, to the Bath National Centre for swimming to train with its lead coach, David McNulty, who has coached several of Team GB’s swimmers to Olympic medals.

“I wasn’t sure how it would go but I just wanted to know that whatever happened I had tried. In fact, I stayed in Bath until I retired in May 2020 and had the best time ever – competing at another Commonwealth Games, a European games and a World Championships. And with competing came travelling, including three trips to Australia, and the life as a senior athlete where you are given everything you need and have only training and performance to think about. It was a brilliant lifestyle.”

Having trained for so long, the coming of the pandemic last year gave Jessica an eight-month break from swimming. She had never been kept away from the sport for so long and it gave her time to think about what to do next.

“I realised that I’d achieved so many of the goals that I had set out to win with swimming that it was time to take on something new. I moved down to London and thought I was set to take up full-time instructor role, however being introduced to Angela, changed all that for me.

“Angela was keenly interested in my experience and swimming expertise and could see how it fitted in so well with the swim programme at Angela’s Swim School. Now that I’m Head of Swimming here, I get around to venues and help instructors deliver the very best of lessons. I get involved with swimmer assessments and class transitions as children progress; it really is fantastic to see their swimming flourish as they go through the Swimstyler levels.

“I think the way the Swimstylers set goals for learning skills and swimming distances really reminds me of my own training where I had instructors to guide me, the structure of weekly lessons and a range of goals to reach. Having a target in mind whether the milestone is to become strong enough to swim without armbands, to be awarded your 50m badge, to join our Swimstyler Hall of Fame with a 1500m swim or in my case to be part of an Olympic squad, we all need to set and work to goals.”

Read more from Jessica on the British Swimming website.


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