Rugby goes swimmingly as Teasdale keeps his balance
A SIAM CUP rugby prospect in May and an Island Games swimming medal hopeful in July.
For young Tom Teasdale, what initially appears to be a tricky balancing act between two disparate sports is instead an enduring source of enthusiasm.
He has impressed for Guernsey Raiders, largely in an unfamiliar scrum-half role, in their challenging campaign in the heady heights of National Two South, and today he is in the match-day squad for the big clash against Jersey.
As he juggles this with a second Island Games appearance in the pool, at just 19, it raises the inevitable question of how he balances the two sports at such a level.
With a smile, it seems, as he makes a compelling case for the benefits of split commitments.
‘When I swim after a rugby game, it always helps with my recovery, and my aerobic endurance and things,’ said Teasdale.
‘The rugby obviously helps with the strength in the pool, and the speed. I don’t swim more than 200m because I’m a sprinter, so the strength from the rugby really helps as well.
‘I really enjoy them – I can’t see myself ever giving up one sport for the other.’
He occasionally misses one competition for another and later admits that a professional contract in one would come at the serious expense of the other, but he is not yet making any huge sacrifices.
Teasdale has only dropped a handful of Raiders games this season from choice, a worthy trade-off for being able to swim in the Island Games.
The Barracudas faithful is excited to head off to Gibraltar in the company of several other promising youngsters.
‘Last time we went over and we thought we had a young squad, but this year it’s even younger,’ he said.
‘It’s nice to see all the younger kids coming through and great for me being able to get into my second Island Games and have more events that I want to do and really enjoy.’
There, Teasdale hopes to make a splash with appearances over the 50-200 freestyles, as well as the 50 backstroke and butterfly. Of course, a sprinter of his calibre will also be in demand when it comes to the senior relay squads.
He does have to make a few cuts so that his training programme, already featuring 12-14 hours a week across rugby, swimming and gym work, doesn’t overflow.
‘I need to prioritise my swimming hours. I swim a lot already, but it’s a case of getting in the pool a lot more,’ added Teasdale.
‘I’ve struggled to get in as many hours as I did before Gotland, purely because training times clash, so I sort of have to make up the hours around rugby.
‘We have Island Games at the beginning of July and we also have the Siam, so I have two big things for both coming up in a short period of time.
‘It is hard trying to push for both, and it’s a lot of sport. Tuesdays I’ll be swimming in the morning, swimming in the evening, and then rugby in the evening as well.’
As hectic as it seems, Teasdale wouldn’t change it for the world – that is unless he gets the rare opportunity to seriously step up his level in either.
Even then, it would come as a tricky decision for a sportsman so invested in both.
‘I could never see myself splitting the sports – well, I could, but I wouldn’t want to, as I feel I’d regret it if I gave up swimming for rugby or rugby for swimming,’ he said.
‘I just want to keep going at both until something happens in one of the sports. Say I got a contract with a semi-professional club – if I really went that far in one sport, then I would sacrifice the other.’
In the pool, Teasdale could claim to be one of the older competitors and he carries great praise for several younger members coming through Alison Frankland’s renowned training group.
But his youth is very evident within the current Raiders set-up, outdone only by Matt Creber in that regard, as a relatively recent recruit from the club’s thriving academy.
He nevertheless provided a mature reflection of Raiders’ recent plight and what now awaits them on Siam day.
‘You only get what you give. You put in the hours, you’re going to get the results from it,’ said Teasdale.
‘Raiders have had a pretty rough season this year, but we can take loads from it. We’ve definitely improved over from the beginning of the season to the end, and now we just want to build for Siam.
‘That’ll be another huge event in the books, so there’s all sorts to look forwards to. We’ve built as a team – we lost a few players last year but we’re back and playing good rugby again.’
Although Teasdale was among the injury casualties of the season, he has maintained impressive shape for what’s ahead.
And he is expecting ‘the friendly Games’ to be a particular spectacle, if the atmosphere in Gotland was anything to go by.
‘In Gotland, we had quite a small pool – and the stand, it wasn’t massive but everybody was screaming and you couldn’t hear yourself,’ he added.
‘In Gibraltar, they’re building a new 50m pool, so there are going to be great facilities.’
The only thing that could further enrich the experience would be a much-deserved medal, or several.
‘We definitely have a strong relay team – we learnt that in Gotland – but I definitely feel I could push myself for a couple of individual medals.
‘I’ve worked hard for it, so hopefully I’ve just got to do my best and go from there. You can’t expect anything more of yourself if you give as much as you can.’