Competing as a professional swimmer is not for the fainthearted. Doing it with one leg is even more of a challenge, but one that came almost naturally to 26-year-old Victorian Ellie Cole. After having her leg amputated as a child due to a rare form of cancer, her rehab program involved swimming training and she progressed far more rapidly than instructors had predicted. She defied medical staff when she began swimming a straight line 50 weeks sooner than expected.
Ellie was also drawn to swimming because of the solo aspect of it, as she would often be overlooked over looked in other sports because of her disability. But nobody could keep her on the bench in a swimming comp.
She competed in her first Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and was Australia’s top medallist from the Paralympic Games at Rio in 2016 (alongside Dolphins teammate Lakeisha Patterson), returning home with a six-medal haul. She spoke to Women’s Health about her non-negotiable rules for maintaining her strength, in all its forms.
Prepping is key
“We use processes to help us focus. Athletes tend to always follow the same routine on race day to focus. We eat the same breakfast, we do the same warm up, stick to a similar race plan and adhere to the same recovery protocols. Knowing that you have given everything that you have into a preparation helps give you strength so don’t go short changing yourself.”
Self-care is essential
Swimming competitively can tough on your body. Although Ellie sees her hypermobility as a blessing, it “has also contributed towards two shoulder reconstructions in my career.”
“I do a lot of prehabilitation and physiotherapy work to ensure that I am not putting too much stress on my shoulders.”
Being in the pool is also tough on your locks. “Chlorine is a killer on your hair,” she says. “We can spend up to six hours a day exposing our hair to chemicals. We also train in an outdoor pool which puts us in the firing line of natural elements such as sun and the wind.”
To protect hair, use Pantene 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner which helps “repair damage and leaves hair looking fuller & stronger,” says Remington Shulz, celebrity stylist and Pantene ambassador.
Know that lows are temporary
“Low points don’t last forever. We all experience low points at some stage and some people tend to obsess over them. Knowing that you need to move on and that these low points won’t last forever make them less painful.”
Know when to take a step back
“Sometimes, you may need to take a step back and reassess your situation. If something isn’t working it’s important to just accept the fact and try something else.”