Tell us about the project. I received an e-mail out of the blue from the agency, which was looking for freedivers or synchronised swimmers. I thought it sounded like an exciting opportunity. The whole experience has been such a whirlwind and, although it is just me in the ad, it was definitely a team effort from everyone involved to make it happen.
How was the spot filmed? The ad was filmed on a reef in the Maldives across two days, plus one rehearsal day. Eric Börjeson, the cameraman, was in the water in full scuba gear, along with another scuba diver and a local freediver, looking after our safety. The director, Marcus Söderlund, gave lots of direction but mostly in Swedish – so not to me. He just told me to keep running upside down. The rest of the team from Academy, Grey and Kuoni were very supportive. You can’t tell in the ad, but the current was really strong, which meant I had to keep swimming otherwise I would float away from the boat.
What was the biggest challenge during filming? My biggest challenge was the saltwater in my eyes, which stung as I did all the running with my eyes open. The run on water itself was easy – I’ve had more than 20 years of practice!
How long can you hold your breath for? A very typical question for a synchro swimmer… truthfully, I have never timed myself. The main difference is that I can hold my breath when I’m exerting myself better than non-synchro swimmers. I was treading water and swimming upside down for two days of filming and never got tired.
How did you get into synchronised swimming? My parents saw synchronised swimming debut in the 1984 Olympics and thought it would be a good sport for me. I had a diagnosis of asthma early on but, since starting synchro, I have never used an inhaler.
What do you do when you are not in an ad? I recently left my full-time job to start a synchronised swimming team in Nottingham called the AquaStars. It has always been a dream to coach my own team. It has been a challenge but I’ve had a lot of support, particularly from Bramcote Swimming Club, which has embraced the team.
What advice can you offer others to become a better swimmer? It’s important to learn the proper techniques, otherwise you’ll waste a lot of energy swimming incorrectly.