I've lost over 2.5 stone and now I'm wresting my way to a  healthier life

After losing two and a half stone at Slimming World, Douglas woman Vickie Swanton was inspired to get into the ring and learn to wrestle, reveals CHRIS DUNNE
I've lost over 2.5 stone and now I'm wresting my way to a  healthier life

Vickie Swanton and the gang getting fit at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Wollen Mills, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

NOW that 31-year-old Douglas woman Vickie Swanton has lost over two and a half stone — she is not only turning heads, she’s locking them too!

While many women who want to keep fit take up walking or running, Pilates or yoga, or maybe join the gym, Vickie dove in head-first to the thrills and spills of wrestling.

Does she get a thrill out of being thrown around a dusty wrestling ring, flipped over, and sat on by other warriors and power-houses?

“Yes!” says Vickie, laughing at my incredulity that she’d want to be on the ropes in what was traditionally a male domain.

Vickie Swanton at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woolen Mills, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan
Vickie Swanton at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woolen Mills, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

“My fiancé, Mark, and his younger sister always had a fascination with wrestling. They watched it a lot on TV.

“When a wrestling show came to Cork featuring Irish wrestlers, the three of us went along to the show and we really enjoyed it.” Vickie was bitten by the wrestling bug.

“I couldn’t believe that Phoenix Wrestling Club was right behind my house in Douglas,” she adds.

“I went to the club one night, and I came out buzzing! The members were all so positive and all so welcoming.”

Did she go into the ring for a bout?

“I did,” says Vickie.

“I came out exhausted and I was still happy!”

Vickie Swanton before her weight-loss with Slimming World, Douglas.
Vickie Swanton before her weight-loss with Slimming World, Douglas.

She was happy too when she discovered another fantastic club — her local Slimming World club — was just behind her house too. She was welcomed there with open arms as well.

“I had no intention of joining Slimming World,” says Vickie, who works as a receptionist.

“My pal was joining up in May and I decided to go too. I was heading to the USA in the summer on a holiday involving some hiking. So I thought losing a bit of weight would help.”

She didn’t expect such rapid results after joining the Douglas club.

“Things just snowballed rapidly. It was great! I weighed in at 15 stone 1lb and in 15 weeks I had lost two and a half stone,” says Vickie.

“The programme was really do-able and it suited me”

How did the weight creep on?

“My job is sedentary where I’m sitting down a lot,” says Vickie.

“I was making bad food choices. After joining Slimming World I thought a lot more about what I was eating and I started eating a lot more vegetables and salads.”

Did she start shopping for new clothes?

“Not at first,” says Vickie.

“I didn’t get any new clothes for a while, but I did get some clothes from a pal. I fitted into a size 12 or size 14 depending on the style. Before, I was wearing size 20. So that was a drastic change in dress size! I felt totally like a new woman.”

She looked like a new woman and she also had a lot more energy.

Vickie Swanton with other members of the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woollen Mills, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan
Vickie Swanton with other members of the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woollen Mills, Cork. Picture: Dan Linehan

“I am a scout leader, which requires being very active and having lots of energy” says Vickie.

“When I was much heavier I found it hard to keep up with the kids and I used to be exhausted. Now I can keep up with them and I can get involved in all the games. In the photos, when I weighed over 15 stone wearing my scout uniform, and in the photographs now wearing my uniform, there is a massive difference. I look so different to when I was squeezed into my scout uniform.”

She feels different too.

“I don’t sit down as much. I took up running and I run after work two nights. And I run from my office to Slimming World! It’s my new Tuesday routine,” says Vickie.

“I’m not in front of the TV in the evenings eating a bar of chocolate. If I want a bit of chocolate, I have some. But now I think about it.

“And now I’ve taken up wrestling, I don’t eat junk food anymore. I have a much better structure around my eating habits now and my food choices are planned for my active lifestyle. My mindset is changed for the better.”

She must feel good in the wrestling gear? And look good too. Is it all spandex and Lycra?

Vickie grins. Now she’s slim and trim she can look the part.

Coach Kieran Lynch with Vickie Swanton at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woolen Mills, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Coach Kieran Lynch with Vickie Swanton at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woolen Mills, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

“Yes, traditionally wrestlers wear spandex. When I start doing shows, then that’s what I’ll be wearing. Now, when I’m training and learning about the sport, I wear shorts.”

Wrestling is an unusual interest for a girl?

“If I’d never lost weight, I don’t think I’d have followed up my interest in wrestling,” says Vickie.

“Now I love being involved and learning all about it.”

What is she learning?

“There are proper techniques learning how to fall, how to land, and how to roll so that you don’t get hurt or injured,” says Vickie.

“There’s a big focus on cardio-strength.”

But is she fearful of getting hurt in the ring?

“It is true that I’m accident prone!” says Vickie.

Vickie Swanton getting fit at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woolen Mills, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Vickie Swanton getting fit at the Phoenix Wrestling Club in Douglas Woolen Mills, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

“But if you practice the correct techniques, you minimise any damage. There was a story going around about a wrestler who was hit by a car but didn’t break any bones! So it is all about using the right techniques to avoid injury.”

She’s not treated with kid gloves at the wrestling club either.

“Everyone is treated the same,” says Vickie.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been there. I love that we’re all the same. They are a great bunch of people to work with. I was very bad one time at listening to other’s opinions.”

Now, embracing her sport, she’s all ears.

“I want to improve and get better. I’ve learned to take advice and criticism. That has helped me in other areas of my life.” She’s one of the gang.

“I’m treated like an equal and I love that. Growing up I was always a tomboy. I thrived as a tomboy,” says Vickie.

“I could never understand why there were some activities that girls couldn’t do.”

Now Vickie is up for owning the wrestling ring.

Are there more girls in the club strutting their stuff?

“There were only two others, Raven and Orla. Now there’s Zoe and me.”

The wrestlers are a band of brothers, welcoming the sisterhood.

“They are all my friends,” says Vickie.

She can defend herself against would-be adversaries now too.

“That’s a good thing,” says Vickie. “Since I took up wrestling and running, I feel stronger, more powerful. And wearing a new dress size makes me feel good generally.”

Her fiancé is happy too, she says.

“It is great that we have an interest in common that included Mark’s sister, who is 20. We’ll be going to a lot of wrestling shows together.”

Instead of watching the sport on TV, Mark and his sister could well be watching Mark’s future wife in a live wrestling show soon.

“That’s the goal,” says Vickie. “I’d love that.”

When is the wedding?

“We don’t have a date yet,” says Vickie. “But we’re hoping to get married in 2021.”

Mark might be in for another surprise ... Vickie may well carry her future husband over the threshold now that she’s strong and empowered, mightn’t she?

Vickie laughs.

“Who knows? That could well happen!”

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