Karolina Przeklas is a busy mum, committed member of the Starseeds team and now a Swimathon enthusiast. Whilst swimming has always been a passion, a personal event led Karolina to question her health and the example she was giving to her little girl. Inspired, motivated and determined to improve her fitness and encourage her daughter, Starseed's Sales Executive signed up to the Swimathon and fulfilled her dream of competing at the London Aquatics Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
You recently took part in the 5k Swimathon, what originally inspired you to take part in this challenge?
I love water, it really relaxes me. Swimming for me, it's like diving into another world - quiet and peaceful. As a young girl, back home, I trained in swimming and I was actually quite good at it. I have competed in swimming competitions before. As a 15-year-old, I was second in my region of Poland swimming 50m freestyle, so taking part in the Swimathon has always been on my bucket list.
Recently I had some health problems, which motivated me to start swimming again. It took my focus away from being unwell and helped me move into a more healthy and positive state.
How often did you train? What was the goal you were aiming for?
My main goal for this was to get my mind out of being sick, but I set myself the challenge of finishing the swim in 45 minutes. I had 8 weeks to prepare; when I started training I was completing it in 90 minutes, so by the time Swimathon arrived, I need to have cut my time down by half. I trained 4-5 times a week; a couple of times I went to practice in the Olympic pool, just to get the feel of the venue. It's pretty surreal if I'm honest - you really feel like a world-class athlete swimming in that pool!
Your health scare in a way caused your light bulb moment, but what kept you motivated to keep going?
Jasia, my daughter is at the heart of everything that I do. She is my biggest adventure. Being in a hospital with drips stuck in my arms was scary and eye-opening. It made me realise that I need to put a lot more effort into being healthy so that I can be there for her when she grows up. I consider my mum to be one of my closest friends and I hope that one day Jasia will say the same about me.
What kind of doubts and fears emerged around this kind of challenge and how did you work through these?
The main doubt is always whether you’ll really be able to do it. Just like life really, you can put lots of effort into training and then on the day anything can go wrong. My little girl was watching and cheering for mama, so the pressure was on. Plus I set myself a goal and I wanted to keep to that. I did it in 44 minutes, so I'm super happy.
Your little girl was a huge reason for why you took part in the Swimathon, how do you think we can encourage our children to take part in activities and lead a healthy lifestyle as they grow?
Growing up in post-communist Poland, sport was everywhere. My dad is the one that I have to thank for my love of sports, he always pushed me to try new things and I'm so glad he did. Being active and even competitive is very important. Setting yourself goals and working towards achieving them is so rewarding. I think with children as long as it’s fun they will join in and in the long run, the more you encourage them to be active, the less of a chore that will become.
What was the reality of actually completing the Swimathon? Will you be doing it again or competing in another challenge?
On the day of the race, my brother and my daughter were there to support me. That meant a lot. As soon as I dived into the water, I got a bit choked up, but I just kept focused and swam. Throughout the race my goggles were steaming up, which was really annoying and I guess it slowed me down a bit. But still I managed to finish in good time and as soon as I picked up the medal, Jasia said to me that she wanted to do it with me next year. As far as I'm concerned, that's a job well done.
How has training and taking part in the Swimathon changed your approach or perspective to health and your body?
I always had quite a healthy approach to living especially since having a baby, plus in today's world being healthy is easy because it’s actually trendy! I try to exercise 3-4 times a week and eat well. Last year, together with my daughter, my partner and his son, we took part in a colour run. It was a 5km marathon where paint is thrown at you! That was my first effort to introduce the kids to competitive running. We all loved it, and we booked to do it again this summer!