Loughborough psychologist wins National Swimming title

Dr David Fletcher, Senior Lecturer in Performance Psychology and Management, has won a British national title at the recent GB Masters Open Water Swimming Championships.

The event was hosted by the Swim Wales Challenge Series at Lake Bala, and his success came in the 45 to 49-year-old male 3km event.

Dr Fletcher, who is based in the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, is a regular recreational swimmer during his lunch break at the University’s swimming pool. 

During the Covid-19 lockdowns, Dr Fletcher went to local lakes to continue practising because of pool closures. Like many others, he found that he developed an unexpected love for swimming outdoors as a result.

Dr Fletcher commented: “After a lifetime of indoor pools, I found outdoor swimming a really invigorating experience. There’s something about being in nature and the cool water that is very liberating. I had no intention of racing but last month a friend mentioned the GB Masters Open Water Swimming Championships and I thought I’d give it a go.”

Dr Fletcher’s research involves mentally preparing athletes for top level competition.  So, did his professional expertise help him with the swim?

“I do my best to practise what I preach, but one thing that I didn’t expect in the open water race was the amount of physical contact. Swimming at lunchtime can get competitive, but no one’s punched me in the face! At the start of the race, I got clattered at least three times before I reached the first buoy and that took a bit of getting my head around.”

Although Dr Fletcher swims for health reasons, the lunchtime “fast lane” lives up to its name attracting retired elite swimmers such as Ross Davenport, the three-time Olympian and former Commonwealth Games champion. In 2019, a group of staff swimmers including Dr Fletcher formed a relay team that broke the GB Masters British record in the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle relay.