Woman attacked in swimming pool after overtaking male swimmer with 'fragile ego'

·4-min read
Dr Josie Perry describes the attack which happened at Chiswick Swimming Pool on Monday. (Josie Perry)
Dr Josie Perry describes the attack which happened at Chiswick Swimming Pool on Monday. (Josie Perry)

A woman has spoken out about being attacked by a man in a swimming pool after she had overtaken him several times. 

Dr Josie Perry, a London-based sports psychiatrist, said she was grabbed while doing laps at Chiswick Swimming Pool in west London on Monday morning. 

Perry said she had been safely overtaking a man every few laps before the attack.

But the man suddenly grabbed her feet while she was still underwater during a tumble-turn.

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She said: “My feet were grabbed and I couldn’t get back up to the surface to breathe. 

“Obviously as you’re tumble-turning you’re desperately waiting for that breathe so I was really panicking."

Perry, who has a spinal disability and wears a float to help her swim, said the aide also shot off during the ordeal. 

She said that when she resurfaced the man began to argue with her about how she was overtaking him, saying she was being ridiculous, that he was faster and even challenged her to race him. 

The sports psychiatrist left the pool and complained to the manager before reporting the incident to the Metropolitan Police.  

Sharing her story on Twitter, she said: “Attacked in the pool this morning for overtaking a fragile male ego. 

"Grabbed my feet and held me underwater. Then starts yelling. Lifeguards lovely but of course it is me that has to leave as I can’t risk swimming with an aggressive man far stronger than I.”

Perry said she struggled to sleep on Monday night in the wake of the incident.

She also said she is now nervous to bump into him again and that she had to summon “every ounce of courage” to get back into the pool on Tuesday morning.

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She said: “I guess because I’m a psychologist I had done all the right things, and talked to people and was ok about it but then it took me till two o’clock this morning to get to sleep. 

“Every time I closed my eyes I felt like I was underwater again. I got really angry about it this morning. 

“I had to summon up every ounce of courage to go back to the pool today and get into the water,” she added. “We shouldn’t have to go through that.”

“I noticed when I was swimming this morning I got too close to a guy in front and suddenly I”m holding back and I’m slowing down and suddenly I’m not going to overtake because I don’t want to risk his wrath if I upset him.”

Perry told Yahoo News that what upsets her the most was how many women have shared similar stories with her. 

The sports psychiatrist said: “It’s not that unusual. Rarely a week goes past without one of my girlfriends sharing a story of where they’ve been chased by a man while out running or they’ve been cycling uphill and someone sat and drafted them or got annoyed when they’ve overtaken them."

“And then there's the stories I’ve had back after sharing mine on Twitter - hundreds of stories of women who have had the same thing and haven’t gone back to the pool, didn’t feel like they could report it and wondered if it was their own fault for wearing a swimming costume that is too revealing - all of those kind of things.”

“It feels very normal, which is really sad and upsetting. Everyone has their own version of it."

Perry said these sorts of incidents should be called out every time they’re seen and pools also should have a no-tolerance policy for them.

“Police should also follow up on these kinds of actions and women should feel able to talk about them,” she added.  

“If it’s held to account and somebody has to think through doing that, we don’t have to live our lives with a threat mindset looking out for something that might harm us.”

Yahoo News has contacted the Met Police for comment. 

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