Me and water got on very well together from an early age! I swam my first width, throwing off the armbands at age 3 for the reward of an ice cream cone! My Mum complains of the unfairnesss that at the Christmas sea swim my kick is so strong that only half of me is under the icy water! I enjoyed swimming the whole way through school, well, don’t know if you can truly enjoy getting out of bed at 5 stupid o’clock, training before 6am, but chlorine was my perfume. I was really lucky training with Chalkie White in Glenalbyn Swimming Club, a real friendly and family oriented club, best known for their Master’s programme and water polo teams. Success came with lots of national titles, records and superb travelling opportunities representing Ireland around the world. I was really fortunate to get to Seoul in 1988 to swim in the Olympics, and although 32 years ago now, the memories are still very bright and vivid in my mind. Meeting heros, but curiously as Olympian equals.
Multiple shoulder dislocations during my US college swimming career followed, which neatly brought me to my next big interest, rehabilitation and physiotherapy! I have practiced physio throughout the US, Zimbabwe and Dublin for gulp, 25 years now. It was in Zimbabwe in 1996 that I had access to my first hydrotherapy pool, and my two loves came together!
Ever since I have been involved in aquatic physiotherapy in one way or another both through HSE Community Pool programmes and also privately. It just feels so good exercising up to your lugs in warm water, an addiction of sorts, chlorine is still my perfume! As a young aquatic physio I was mentored by Mary O’Driscoll, an intrepid KIWI physiotherapist who put down roots and anchors in the Variety Club, School for the Blind Pool, on Merrion Rodd where we did both aqua rehab classes and antenatal aqua classes too.
I LOVED doing aquanatal classes with Mary while pregnant with my first child. As I struggled with pelvic pain on land, the relief and joy of being able to move freely and easily in the pool was fantastic, and continues to be the driver for my classes today. Baby was due Feb 14th 2003, and was to be called Valentine, or Shirley, but he had the foresight not to arrive until the 26th! The National Aquatic Centre, which is close to home, opened its doors for the Special Olympics later that year, and in I splashed. ‘Eureka! I’ve got it!’ was my inspiration, and Eurekahydrotherapy started in September 2003. The classes have evolved and venues increased with EurekaHydrotherapy over the years.
2020 sees the rebrand and launch of Aqua4mums where I hope to spread even further the joy of exercising while almost weightless, even when you’re feeling terrifically heavy! Exercise guidelines for pregnant women are continuously being updated, the research is there for the importance of exercise, 150minutes a week for a host of mother and baby benefits (ACOG Guidelines) Let’s get to it!
Come join us in the pool, it’s the easiest and most fun way to exercise when pregnant!