Swim­mer back af­ter knee in­jury

Taupo & Turangi Weekender - - News - Lau­rilee McMichael

Tear­ing a mus­cle in his knee last year has been the best thing that could have hap­pened to him, says swim­mer John­son Bishop.

John­son, 18, a Year 13 stu­dent at Taupo¯-nui-a-Tia Col­lege, has just brought home a gold medal, two sil­vers and a bronze from the re­cent New Zealand Short Course Cham­pi­onships.

Not bad for a young man who ear­lier this year was still re­cov­er­ing from an in­jury that stopped him from com­pet­ing in his best event, the breast­stroke.

But with care­ful re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and sup­port and the right train­ing, John­son has come back stronger and faster than ever and now says he’s grate­ful for the in­jury.

“It al­lowed me to have a big break from all the train­ing. It had got to the point where I was so gut­ted and down about it that I was con­tem­plat­ing giv­ing up but hav­ing that break made me re­alise that it [swim­ming] is what I wanted to do, and I just love it so much.”

John­son says he usu­ally tries to peak twice a year for big events and the NZ Short Course Champs is def­i­nitely one of those. The other is the New Zealand Age Group Champs which was held in April, where John­son’s best re­sult was a fourth plac­ing and he set new per­sonal best times.

“That was my first race back from in­jury. It was a hugely mo­ti­vat­ing meet be­cause even be­fore my in­jury I was rac­ing at fourth or fifth. I came back su­per­mo­ti­vated and went to my first meet of the short course about three weeks af­ter and did some big per­sonal bests and knew it was go­ing to be a good sea­son from there.”

John­son has been im­prov­ing on his per­sonal bests all sea­son and cred­its the suc­cess to the train­ing pro­gramme he’s been fol­low­ing.

“I can race on the week­end, have a good week of train­ing and then go to the next week­end and drop a few sec­onds off my times.”

At the NZ Short Course Champs John­son is jus­ti­fi­ably proud of his all his medals but he’s es­pe­cially pleased with the 200m breast­stroke bronze, which he won in the Open cat­e­gory, against swim­mers older than him. The win­ner was a 21-year-old and the sil­ver medal­list 20. John­son was 17.

John­son took up com­pet­i­tive swim­ming at in­ter­me­di­ate age and started to se­ri­ously spe­cialise in breast­stroke and med­ley when he was at col­lege, win­ning his first na­tional ti­tle when he was 13. He says he likes that there’s al­ways some­thing to work to­wards, com­pe­ti­tions through­out the year and lit­tle goals to achieve ev­ery time you get in the water.

He’s out of bed at 5.30 most morn­ings to get to the pool to train for around 90 min­utes and fol­lows that up in the af­ter­noon with a gym ses­sion or Pi­lates or an­other ses­sion in the pool. In all, he trains 20 to 25 hours per week.

John­son has been coached ever since his Taupo¯ Swim­ming Club squad days by Peter McCal­lum.

“He’s got a great eye for tal­ent and he spe­cialises in tech­nique so he’s re­ally good at teach­ing peo­ple the right way to swim and how to make their tech­nique bet­ter. One thing he does well is he works re­ally well and closely with his swim­mers. He’s not set on the tra­di­tional method and he has a re­ally open mind.”

John­son’s es­pe­cially grate­ful for his close re­la­tion­ship with Peter af­ter his in­jury last year. He came off the start­ing block on a funny an­gle in a race, felt his knee “kind of cave in” and then as he be­gan his breast­stroke kick, it popped, caus­ing ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain.

“I tore my menis­cus in my left knee and be­ing a breast­stro­ker that hits you pretty hard.”

The re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion took up as much time as John­son’s train­ing had but it also gave him the op­por­tu­nity to work more closely with Peter on a new train­ing pro­gramme.

“We had to be re­ally smart about my re­cov­ery and once I came back into full­time train­ing we de­signed a pro­gramme to­gether. Hav­ing that much in­put into my train­ing was hugely mo­ti­vat­ing and you wouldn’t find that be­tween most coaches and swim­mers.”

John­son says dur­ing his re­cov­ery he was grate­ful for all the sup­port he got, in­clud­ing from Team Taupo¯, which kept him on the schol­ar­ship pro­gramme even though he lost a whole sea­son due to in­jury.

Next year John­son is off to Auck­land to do a year of pre­science study with a view to study­ing as a chi­ro­prac­tor and says he hopes to find a coach in Auck­land to carry on the pro­gramme he and Peter have de­vel­oped.

Over sum­mer he will be train­ing for the Queens­land State Cham­pi­onships which will be held in Bris­bane in mid-De­cem­ber.

“It will be a re­ally good test for me be­cause Aus­tralia’s one of the best swim­ming na­tions in the world so it’ll be good to go over there and see how I race against the Aus­tralians.”

John­son’s younger brother Thomas also recorded per­sonal bests in four events at the NZ Short Course Champs and John­son says he is a re­ally good train­ing buddy. “Ob­vi­ously you can’t get through those hard ses­sions alone . . . it’s just great to have peo­ple to push me ev­ery day.”

■ John­son is sup­ported by a Team Taupo¯ schol­ar­ship.

Photo / File

John­son spends 20 to 25 hours per week train­ing.

Photo / Lau­rilee McMichael

Swim­mer John­son Bishop, 18.

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