Friday, 29 May 2020
OLYMPIC silver medallist Polly Swann is balancing her rowing training with her efforts to support the NHS by working as a junior doctor during the coronavirus pandemic.
Swann, who was part of the Rio 2016 squad, graduated as a doctor from the University of Edinburgh in July 2019.
The Leander athlete, who lives in Henley, will spend three months working as an interim foundation year doctor at a hospital in Scotland.
She said: “A lot of junior doctors have been moved to the most critical parts of the NHS, so interim foundation year doctors are backfilling their roles.
“I’m definitely not a frontline intensive care unit worker, but I’m glad I can still help to ease the burden in some way.”
After winning a silver medal in the women’s eight at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, she stepped away from rowing to focus on finishing her medical studies.
She then returned to rowing and went on to win a bronze medal in the pair with Holly Hill at World Cup III.
Swann had been training hard to make the squad for Tokyo 2020 prior to the cancellation of the global sporting event.
Her Olympic experience means she understands the impact the Games has on the world.
She added: “The Olympics is a celebration of human achievement and it brings people together; it’s about more than just medals and more than even sport.
“If everyone can come together for this celebration at the end of all this, it’ll be the most phenomenal Olympics ever.”
Swann is no stranger to balancing training with work. She explained: “I had the experience of training alongside working when I was in my last few months of medical school last year, so it’s not entirely new to me.
“The team at British Rowing have been really supportive and flexible. My coach, Tom Pattichis, has devised a program with the help of our physiologist and physios that I can do while I’m working, which has really put me at ease.
“I’m staying with my parents for lockdown, so I have a rowing machine in their hallway, some dumbbells in the living room and a wattbike in my dad’s toolshed, which I’m sure is very annoying for them.”
Swann was born in Lancaster, but the family oved to Edinburgh when she was still an infant.
She started studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh before taking a break to focus on rowing and went onto represent GB at the European Championships in 2014, achieving gold in the women’s pair in Belgrade.
Brendan Purcell, director of performance, said: “We’re pleased to be able to support Polly in balancing her training for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games alongside her work as a junior doctor.
“Since the start of the pandemic we have discussed with athletes and staff how we can combine our pursuit of performance excellence alongside our social responsibility in this current crisis.
“As well as the fact that Polly will be contributing to the nationwide NHS effort, our approach aims to centre on developing the person and athlete to enable them to thrive now and in their careers beyond sport.”
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