One of our favourite things to do is highlight inspiring, kick ass ladies in our community, and that’s why we loved chatting to South African synchro swimmer, Laura Strugnell (@lollipops_14). This amazing woman is totally crushing it and living her dream! We were so excited to ask her about her training and career, and how she focuses on self-care through it all.
Tell us a little bit about you?
I grew up in Gauteng and moved to Cape Town 8 years ago, just after I finished school. I moved to pursue my synchronised swimming career with Emma Manners-Wood, who is my current duet partner. My sisters inspired me to start synchro because they did it at school. Every afternoon, I would go with my gran to sit and watch them. I was 5 at the time, so being the person that I am, I didn’t do much sitting. I was practicing on the side-line, trying to copy their every move. Not much has to be done to draw you into synchro, as it’s a mesmerizing sport. But the difficult part is keeping in the sport, as the training is intense and it requires a lot of time and dedication, which in my opinion, not a lot of people are prepared to do for a sport. The most important thing has always been to remember why I started and to love the good and the bad that comes with synchro.
What are the biggest benefits of doing synchronised swimming? What advise do you give to your swimmers to keep them motivated and help them overcome hurdles?
The biggest thing synchro has taught me through all these years is: nothing comes easy. If you want it, you have to work for it. The advice I give to my swimmers is to enjoy the process. If you are not enjoying it, then why are you here? If you enjoy something, the results will come naturally. Nothing is ever about the results itself, but the process to the results you want. If you don’t have a process, success is not very easy to achieve.
What are your favourite active wear brands?
Gosh, this is a tough one. Anything that looks good and feels great! Shoes are my thing. As long as my outfit matches my shoes, I’m good to go.
Must-have beauty products?
Mycro keratin hair treatment. As a swimmer, my hair is exposed to loads of chemicals all the time. Last year, my hairdresser gave me my first treatment and really, this was the greatest thing for me.
What does health, beauty and fitness mean to you?
My main thing is that I do not train to look good, those results will come on their own if you are working hard. I train to try and be the best at my sport. A lot of my clients think that swimming has given me the tone and fitness that I have currently, but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into it, too.
Tell us what a day in your life looks like. What’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?
Because my start is so early, I usually kick off my day with an Almond cappuccino. Then later on in the morning, I will have my boiled eggs or sliced biltong and nuts or something easy that I can have on-the-go. I like to keep meals light during the day because I am always rushing around. My routine includes cuddling with my fur children for about 10 minutes before I get up. And my ritual is coffee, coffee, and coffee.
What about your weekly workout schedule?
Shew! Well, work and training go hand in hand, so it’s a rush from one to the next. I wake up around 04:15am and start my coaching at 05:00am until 08:00am. I then shoot off to my strength and conditioning coach, Tyrell Allies (@tyallies), in Diep River for a session with him. He is the foundation of my training and I would not have improved so much if it weren’t for him. Then, back to the gym for more lessons from 09:30am to 11:00am and either a synchro training session or a small break before I teach kids squads in the afternoon. Once those are over, it’s back to more synchro training and then home for dinner. If I’m lucky, I will have time to take my two fur children for their run.
How do you find balance between being a swimming instructor at Virgin Active Constantia and training with @Barracudas synchronised swimming SA and staying healthy?
I don’t! Most of the time, it is very challenging and I have to sacrifice a lot. But I am lucky enough to have so many people who support me and my training. They often remind me why I started in the first place. My clients also help me to stay positive as they are motivating me just as much as I try to motivate them. Physically, the body does take strain but I can say that I do listen to my body and I am quite in tune with it, so I know when to push and when to slow down.
What does self-care mean to you? What do you do to keep sane? What products do you enlist to help?
Spending time at home with family and loved ones and taking my dogs out for walks to the forest or the beach trying to get a different environment. I watch TV and chill out if I can (but there isn’t much time for this). I don’t really like to use a lot of products or supplements, I believe that eating right can help with most things.
Tell us about the collaboration with Seven945 (@seven945_tokai) – we love everything!
Seven945 was established by Anneline Schweitzer. It’s a very new brand and they have been wonderful in sponsoring me with some really amazing tights and gym clothes for my training. They noticed the hard work and training I do and wanted me to be an ambassador to their brand. I am very proud to be wearing their clothes.
What is your philosophy when it comes to food? What are your favourite foods?
No philosophy, just everything in moderation. I love carbs but I do try and stay away if I can help it.
What are your ‘go-to’ snacks?
Biltong, ginger apple, lemon shots, and roasted and salted almonds.
Something you can’t live without?
Sweets and chocolate.
What is next for you?
At the moment, I am training for my fifth World championships in South Korea this July, after that I’m not sure.
Things that people don’t know about you?
I am from Benoni (does that say it all?) At least a lot of famous people come from there so surely, it is a good thing.
Is there anything we have not asked that you would like to talk about?
1. Watch out for a new range of funky affordable swimsuits, an exciting project done in collaboration with Second Skins.
2. For our journey to world champs, I will need to do some fundraising, as everything is self-funded. Any Ideas would be appreciated.
Sweet or Savoury? Sweet
East Coast or West Coast? West
Hot or cold? Hot
Lips or Eyes? Eyes
Smoothie or Juice? Both
Yoga or Pilates? Yoga
Coffee or Tea? COFFEEEE!