Roy Allan Saul Burch is a son of the soil. He has left an indelible mark in the local history books as an Olympic swimmer and has held a number of national records.
Although he did not qualify for this year’s Olympics, Roy Allan has given a stellar performance considering he had to overcome a serious injury which left him immobile for awhile.
Previously, he represented the Island in 2008 and 2012.
"Truth be told, my whole life has been a journey. A journey of ups and downs, disappointments and joy. I have learned so much in this past year of recovery, and I feel that, although the journey has been trying, it has taught me so much about life. I was injured on March 27, 2015, and was in a wheelchair for three months. I had to relearn to stand and walk before I could build the strength to swim again. My first swim meet back was in November 2015, and it has taken months to get myself back to a place where I feel 100% again.
“I have learned a lot about myself through this journey. I have always been a strong willed person, and there were times when I felt discouraged along the way. Rehabilitation comes with the help of many others, but the discipline comes from within. I never knew exactly how strong I was until this injury occurred. I have also learned that it could have been much worse, and that I am fortunate.”
When asked what inspires him, Roy Allan replied: "There are many things that inspire me. Above all, my wife Lauren, and two children, Serena and Xavier inspire me every day to be the best individual I can be. Lauren, specifically, is constantly encouraging me, and pushing me along, especially on my hard days.
“She always seems to know what to say. Serena and Xavier are simply the best - they are wonderful reflections of the love we all have for each other, and always make me smile. I am also inspired by my country.
“Bermuda has stood by me through thick and thin, and I am always so proud to represent them on the world stage. Bermuda is my birthplace, and reminds me of all of the wonderful people who have helped me along the way."
What will life after swimming be like?
“I am not sure what the future holds for me. My college degree is in Business Management, and I have a lot of experience in marketing and social media. Also, I have been networking throughout my career. I will be making some career decisions and will hopefully still keep my hands in swimming, as I would love to stay with something I am so fond of, and have so much experience with. I look forward to time spent with my wife and two children, as they are growing up so fast.”
Roy Allan added that his discipline as a swimmer is reflected in his home life, having to juggle being a husband, father and althlete.
“Lauren and I have a really efficient system at home. Since I have been a professional swimmer for many years, we operate on a solid schedule, making sure the kids are taken care of first and foremost. We review my weekly schedule every weekend, to make sure we have everything covered, and we also make sure we plan in advance for when I am traveling for weeks at a time. Lauren and I are able to get out and enjoy ourselves, but truly we love to spend time together as a family unit.”
And, he said, he exercises that same discipline when he prepares for swim meets: “Being a creature of habit before a swim meet is the best recipe for success - at least for me. Usually I wake up at a normal time, have a healthy breakfast and some coffee. I always make sure I swim a good amount, and get some starts and sprints in to get my gears ready to race. Other than that, I have always remained calm and reserved before a race. I find it important to be ‘right’ in my head, and to conserve my energy."
He shared how he became exposed to swimming.
“My mother got me involved in swimming at a very young age. She was always pushing my brother and I do try many sports. I really loved swimming, and happened to be decent at it.
“She became sick with breast cancer when I was very young, and eventually passed while I was away at prep school in New Jersey. One thing I always remember, is that she insisted I keep swimming, and it would open doors in life that I would never have imagined. Looking back now, I know she was right, and I thank her for that."
Roy Allan reflected on him being a role model for youth on the Island: "I would like to consider myself a role model for Bermudian youth. I was once a child in Bermuda, and I know that growing up on a small island, it is easy to feel small in the big world. If anything, I hope people view me as an individual who never gave up, even in the hardest of times. I would also encourage kids to be involved in as much as possible as a child, because time goes by fast, and you do not want to miss an opportunity to really shine in this world."
When asked if his children understood that he was an elite athlete, Roy Allan said: “Serena and Xavier are truly special children. They view me as ‘Daddy’ and really nothing more, which I am happy about. Serena is ten years old, and also swim for SwimMAC in Charlotte in the Marlin age group, but to her, I am just Dad.
“Xavier is too young to really realise what I do for a living. He knows I go the pool twice a day, and that Daddy swims, but he won't understand the magnitude of it until he gets older.
For Lauren and I, we try and be the most righteous individuals we can be, and to model behaviors that they can benefit from in the future.”