Amber Owen . The life of an Elite Athlete
Posted by Fiona Gavine on the 31st May 2022
Here is Ambers’ Story :
I grew up in a small town in the heart of Wales, Llanidloes. From a very early age I was doing as much as I possibly could, every sport, piano lessons, playing the harp at festivals and weddings. In my early teens, I represented my county in gymnastics, swam in national and international events, played in goal for Mid-Wales ladies’ football, played netball for my school team and held a variety of Welsh high jump records. It was at this point I was faced with a decision, which sport to choose. I chose swimming. It was the feeling of being immersed in the water, free to move in all directions, I thought it was the closest thing to flying. The biomechanics, and physics of the sport fascinated me.
To pursue any sport at a high level in the rural countryside of Wales, was pretty difficult. The opportunities and facilities were just not there and after being part of a few swimming clubs I made the step up to become part of a county-level squad. This saw me move schools to Aberystwyth and embark on 18 hours of travelling each week to get to training sessions in the south Wales town of Carmarthen. My family have always been incredibly supportive and they sacrificed an awful lot during these two years where I worked towards my GCSEs. During this time, I performed very well under the coaching of former Commonwealth coach Austyn Shortman. One of my favourite memories and biggest achievements to this day occurred in the summer of 2016 at the Welsh Open Swimming Championships where I achieved 5 gold medals over the week of racing in the 50, 100, 200-metre breaststroke and 50, 100-metre freestyle as well as a bronze in the 200-metre individual medley.
After this chapter of my life, I decided to continue my swimming career by moving to Cardiff on my own. At 16 this was quite a change. I swam for the City of Cardiff swimming club where I increased my training hours from 8 to 18. This was a very challenging 2 years where I underwent A-levels. There were many ups and downs, the downs resulting in me taking 8 months out from the sport. High performance in any sport or even walk of life can be brutal and unfortunately, it led me to fall out of love with the sport. I took this time to finish my A-levels in geography, maths and fine art and to work out what I wanted to do next. This was a huge learning curve, how important mental health is.
After much deliberation, I decided to go to university. After attending many open days and many different subject talks, I decided to do what I know best, sport! I accepted the offer of Applied Sport Science BSc with Hons at the University of Edinburgh. I fell in love with the city and the swimming opportunities were fantastic. After a year of swimming at a high standard with the University of Edinburgh Performance team and gaining brilliant experiences and great achievements, I realised that performance sport is not for me. I liked the 5 am starts and the hard work but the pressure and the competitive environment every day did not suit me. It impacted all corners of my life, so I threw myself into my studies.
The Sport Science course has been brilliant, I’ve gained knowledge in skill acquisition, kinesiology, physiology, nutrition, sports medicine, psychology, exercise prescription for rehabilitation and a special interest in biomechanics. Unfortunately, Covid 19 saw labs close and content go online during my second year of studies. Nevertheless, during this time at home I gained my qualification in sports massage therapy. I was soon treating the people of Llanidloes as we came out of the first lockdown. I knew instantly that this is what I want to do! I loved being able to use my knowledge of fitness, wellbeing, exercises, and motivation to help people of all different backgrounds. As an athlete myself, I know muscle soreness and myofascial trigger points very well which helps substantially when treating clients. I have gained work experience from a number of very experienced practitioners over the past few years, achieving qualifications in dry needling/medical acupuncture, shockwave therapy, and spinal manipulative therapy. I enjoy reading scientific literature to inform my treatment methods, and clinical reasoning so that my treatment methods evolve and develop as new evidence is published.
After recently finishing my degree in Edinburgh I came across One Allan Park Clinic. The moment I set foot in the clinic I knew I wanted to work there. The clinic has a beautiful atmosphere and the ethos of marrying both the physical and mental health together is brilliant and something I am very passionate about. I have learnt how important both healths are when recovering, healing, and moving forward and One Allan Park Wellbeing Clinic does this very well. I love working at the clinic and am looking forward to expanding my clientele to help anyone I can, whatever their needs are. My treatment style is client-centred, I will gather a thorough case history to achieve a very good idea of where you are at, what’s going on and how I can help best, immediately and longer-term. I enjoy providing clients with both immediate symptom relief and working with them to create long-term differences by gaining positive lifestyle knowledge and working on new healthy habits.
Now, I have got back into swimming and planning to race in a few Masters events. I am currently debating whether to undergo a part-time PhD with the University of Edinburgh, looking into the effects of hydrotherapy and lower back pain, intertwining my love for the water and my desire to help people with treatment. One day, in the distant future, I would like to open my own clinic, much like One Allan Park Wellbeing Clinic back home in Wales.
Amber offers Sports/ Manual Therapy/ medical Acupuncture at One Allan Park every Monday and Thursday. You can see her availability and book directly online using this link : For Ambers Availability Click here