TeamSelkie Bios – Katia Vastiau
27th November 2018
I’m Katia, I’m still 45 for a bit and I’ve lived in Oxford for the past 22 years. I only learned to swim when I was 10, but I was hooked straight away and at the age of 14 I joined a large club in Brussels and went on to swim for Belgium between 1987 and 1990. My main events were 50-100-200 breaststroke and 400 medley. A damaged knee and life, took me out of the pool after that and my swimsuit then hung dry for over 20 years (I still have it! It’s vintage now!) But when I came back to swimming in 2011, I immediately fell in love with open water!
Facebook – Katia Vastiau
Twitter – @KatiaVastiau
Instagram – @belgokatia
What do you love about open water swimming?
I love the mix of people and abilities open water brings together, the camaraderie, the fun, the wonderful places to discover far or close by, the amazing feeling of freedom you get out in the water! I am very lucky that although landlocked I live 5 minutes away from the wonderful Queenford Lakes (my second home) and the Thames.
I like to swim alone but I love to swim with friends, I like swimming fast but also swimming to explore, and I also like to have a positive impact on the environment I swim in. And I also love to help and enable people to discover open water swimming! It never fails to put a smile on their faces, and that makes my day.
What’s 2018 been like and what are your plans for 2019?
For most of 2018, I’ve been recovering from knee surgery and “patiently” regrowing some femoral cartilage with the help of stemcells (yes, my right knee is now 44 years younger than me!) so the adventures have been pretty tame. I spent about 1 year swimming with a pullbuoy and 10 months in a brace avoiding loading my knee…so when I was finally allowed to ditch the pullbuoy, it felt pretty wrong and I was very frustrated by the feeling I’d lost my position in the water and it wasn’t coming back fast. So I decided to ditch any attempt at club trainings which were making me grumpy, and just go and swim by myself until I’d recover the sensation and joy of gliding through the water, first in the pool and then outdoors!
And it worked! I ended up entering a couple of events last minute or to complete a team, but mainly, I swam often, leisurely, with lots of different friends, in different places, and made the most of this amazing summer! Social swim-xploring wherever the flow or the swimmer friends took me! I probably swam more often than any other year, but less far and less fast but I enjoyed every minute of it! I also spent a lot of time on my paddle board doing safety at swim sessions or just enjoying the river and good company and the never ending sunny days.
In 2019, I’ll probably do a bit more training and try and regain some speed, because that feeling is nice.
I have tried to keep swimming outdoors regularly to keep acclimatised and I have entered the Portishead Popsicle event in December (mainly because the poster looked fun, the lido is colourful, I liked the band and some good friends were going too) and the Cold Water Championships in Tooting Bec.
Then I think it might be time for a longer event/challenge again, or a beautiful swim somewhere I’ve never been before….I haven’t decided yet but I’m open to wacky suggestions! (Ps: I’m not keen on going in loops, I prefer a destination and I’m thinking 20km max or I get bored)