Watching Disney classics, baking and diving into the open water – two Australian Dolphins have been keeping each other company – as well as motivated – during this time of isolation.
Travelling from her home in Penrith to Queensland for a medical procedure a few weeks ago, young Springwood rookie Ella Jones was invited by Dolphin leader and Paralympian, Monique Murphy, to recover at her home in Brisbane.
After quarantining at a caravan park for two weeks prior to her operation, Jones moved in with Murphy post-surgery and they have been keeping each other occupied ever since.
“It’s been really good doing isolation with Mon, it’s been so good that we’ve been able to do things together,” Jones said.
“We’re both full on knitting at the moment and we’ve had crazy nights where we have watched the Disney channel – we’re going through all the classics, Hercules, Pocahontas, The Little Mermaid,” she laughed.
With her partner living further north up the coast in Mackay, Murphy echoed Jones’ sentiments and said it was nice to share this time with someone instead of being by herself.
“When you’re on your own you notice how much you do need that other support to keep you accountable, so I am excited to have Ella here,” she said.
“Just having someone else to cook for, someone else to talk to other than my cat – and actually get a response! There is mutual benefit in it and as much as I hope I can impart some wisdom on her, I can learn from her also.”
While pools were closed in Queensland, Jones and Murphy ventured out for an open water swim to keep connected to the water – an experience that is very foreign to the pool-based swimmers.
“I’ve never really done open water swimming before and it was good, we thought we’d swum a kilometre, but I think it was actually like 400m,” Jones laughed.
“It was so lovely to get in the water,” Murphy added.
“We pick swimming – especially a lot of the paras – because there is no weight on our joints or bodies and as an amputee, doing a lot more land-based exercise is having an effect on our mobility, which is already compromised.
“Floating in the water, I personally feel so much more freedom and I feel like I could stay in there for hours, whereas I jump on the bike or do some land-based activity it very much starts to get undoable. I had a sense of freedom being in the water – it felt very very good.”
The pair have not only bonded over Disney, swimming and their career ambitions, but also their similar diagnoses around endometriosis and adenomyosis – conditions which affect women’s menstrual cycles.
With the postponement of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, both athletes have taken this opportunity to get their health and bodies checked, with Murphy also going under the knife weeks before Jones.
“I have been absolutely loving the fact I can recover from surgery without the pressure of training,” Murphy said.
“I went in and got my surgery on the same day Maddie Groves (fellow Australian Dolphin), which was the day the Games were officially announced as postponed.
“We saw it coming and booked in our appointments. I had a laparoscopy and was diagnosed with adenomyosis, on top of my pre-existing diagnosis of endometriosis.”
When Jones expressed to Murphy that she was experiencing similarly painful symptoms, Murphy insisted she also see a specialist.
“If Mon hadn’t encouraged me when I told her about my symptoms to get it checked, I probably wouldn’t have got it checked out. Having Tokyo postponed means I have this opportunity to focus on my health – we don’t really get a chance to stop and take a break because we’re always training, so this has actually been a positive.”
As plans to reopen pools begin to take shape around the country, Murphy, who was recently appointed a Lifeline Community Custodian for the second year in a row, urged junior swimmers to stay determined and not focus on the negatives of this unprecedented situation.
“I think when I was young, I thought I had to be making the advancements and the achievements right then and now,” Murphy said.
“I didn’t make my first team until I was the age of 21 and if I went back and told myself that I would have been shocked and I would have thought that was too old to make a first senior team.
“So I think it is just knowing that there is time, we will ride this, it is like riding a wave – there will be ups and downs, but we are moving forward and we are doing the right things by our health at the moment. It is a matter of patience and those opportunities will still be there waiting for us.
“I never qualified for an Age national championships and that was always my hope and dream as a child, and I never got there, but I still made it onto a team, so for those who towards the end of that national age cut off, our journeys may look a little bit different to how we envisioned them, but that doesn’t mean our opportunities are completely gone, we have just got to get a little bit creative in how we go about achieving our goals but our goals can still remain there and we will find a way to get to them.”