Name: Thomas Woods first-year student
Age: 16 years
Club: Neptunes WPSC
Coach: Roland Eskudt
10 March, 19:00 hours, disaster strikes as the Government announces the closure of swimming pools across Malta, amongst others, in a bid to control the spike in COVID-19 cases. "I had been training and giving it my all for around 10 months for 22 hours a week spread over 10 swimming sessions per week. I also attended a three-week high altitude training camp in the Bulgarian mountains in February 2021 with the ultimate aim being to peak during the Hungarian National Swimming Championships" says Thomas.
Due to COVID-19 no foreign swimmers were allowed to take part in the Hungarian races and attention shifted to races in Istanbul, Turkey. Pools in Malta were closed three days before local competitions were to be held in Malta and eight days before competitions in Istanbul. "Such long periods away from the pool could put all your hard work and training down the drain" continues Thomas. Arrangements were made for his team to travel to Turkey earlier then planned in order to get some swim time in before the competitions.
Whilst in Turkey, Thomas participated in two different competitions: Long course, which are races done in a 50m pool and Short course, which are races done in a 25m pool. "My results in the long course races did not reflect my training and were far from what they should have been" tells us Thomas. As the days went by and we rolled into the short course races Thomas regained his natural confidence with the water. He started to feel his speed and was determined to turn his results around. "During the morning races I managed to swim the 400 metre race in 4 minutes, 5 seconds and 59 split seconds. This earned me a spot in the finals for later in the afternoon and I was aware of how close I was to the National Record. I felt amazing in the water and was determined to get it. I went back to my hotel, had a good lunch and rested. In the afternoon I went all out in my race and swam the 400 metre freestyle distance in a time of 4minutes, 3 seconds and 30 split seconds which is 70 split seconds below the record thus earning my first Maltese National Record" recounts Thomas.
He is now set on bigger achievements and will continue to work to achieve these results. "These results could not be possible without the unbelievable dedication of my Coach Roland Eskudt who heads my team - Neptunes WPSC. He pushes us every day, he makes us work hard and he never seems to tire, and I am sure that without him such results would not be possible. I also need to thank my parents who sacrifice so much for my sister and I. I must also thank the ASA who support my hard work and assist me in my efforts. Finally I would like to thank the College Principal and my lecturers at Ġ.F. Abela Junior College who have shown understanding and helped me during my time away from school" concludes Thomas.
Well done Thomas!