I have an older brother who used to love the water. My parents struggled to get him out of the water as he loved it so much, so when I came along they were expecting a very similar story. However, it was the complete opposite. I hated swimming. I had to be bribed with food to get in and swim! Nevertheless, my mum taught me as she wanted me to learn the basic skills for water safety. Then she took me to a club and I began to enjoy the sport more and more.
When I was younger, I was very picky about who taught me to swim, so it ended up being my mum. Then, like I said, I joined my local club Etwall Eagles and I swam twice a week, but my mum had to be on poolside with me or I wouldn’t get in the water. At aged 9, I was invited to the development program at Derventio Excel, the club I am still at now. I swam once a week with them and then another six times with my home club. I went to my first nationals at aged 11, but I was still training mostly with my home club. Jamie Main then moved to my club to become Head Coach in 2015. This was the year I became a full-time swimmer of Derventio Excel. Each year I progressed my training and I started adding more sessions and gym work. I won my first ever nationals when I was 15 in the 200m freestyle. I work with Jamie every day. Our swimmer-coach relationship is an important factor in my success in the pool.
My female role model has to be my grandma. She is currently in her 70s and still goes to the gym every day, as well as running and walking (at a pace I cannot keep up with!). She motivates me to think that if you want to achieve in life and keep healthy, it is possible to do so at whatever age. She used to work for the NHS and is now a volunteer twice a week at her local hospital. She is always positive and has a passion for making others happy.
So, on a usual training day, I will wake up at 4.30am to be on poolside for 5.10am. I usually eat a banana in the car to fuel me for the session ahead. We do pre-pool for 20 minutes to activate our muscles before getting in the water. Then we swim from 5.30 to 7.30am. I get home at around 8.10ish. I need to leave the house again at 8.35am to ensure I get to school on time, so I eat my breakfast in this time slot. I am then at school from 8.45am to 3.25pm most days. However, as I am currently in sixth form, I have frees in the day giving me more flexibility for when I want to eat. After school, I go home and have my tea at around 3.45pm, ready to leave the house at 4.05pm for gym which starts at 4.30pm. I usually finish gym at 5.30pm, allowing me time to then get over to the pool session which starts at 6pm. After my session, we stretch as a team and then leave the pool. I eat some post-training snack in the car, so I can get to bed when I’m home. I currently train nine pool sessions and three gym sessions a week.
In my downtime, I choose to watch movies and catch up with any episodes from TV series which I have missed. I like catching up on Love Island and Race Across The World. I catch up with friends through social media. I also enjoy spending time with my family. We try and eat out once a week as a family.
The night before my ‘big race’ I always want to get a good night’s sleep, so I usually watch some of a film before bed so that I am chilled out before I go to sleep. The following morning, I try to stick to my usual food portion that I would have at home as most of the time I am staying in a hotel when racing. I have learnt over the years that I feel sluggish in a morning so my timeline starts much earlier than others. This simply means I have longer in the pool to feel the water and warm up my body so I am ready to race. I always listen to music just before I race to allow my headspace to be purely focusing on what I want to execute.
My favourite event has to be the ‘splash and dash’ 50m. It’s not an event I have ever focused on, so I always feel relaxed before I race and I can enjoy it. The only downside is that 50m for me is over way too quickly. I was definitely not made to be a sprinter.
I never get the feeling that I don’t want to go to training. If my coach tells me to miss a session or if he adapts the session for me to make it easier, it frustrates me. But, as I trust my coach, I know he’s doing it for my benefit. If I am ill, I will always message my coach so I can get a second opinion on what I should do about training for that day.
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, we cannot train together in a pool with our teammates. I can’t wait to get back and have such an incredible team to train alongside again. As the Olympic trials have now moved to next year, this gives me the motivation to keep pushing. This sport has already taken me to so many countries across the world, so I can’t wait to see where else the sport I love could take me.
If I was to give my younger self a piece of advice, it would be to not be afraid of trying anything. I was always shy as a child. I wish I spoke up more in training and in classes at school rather than working things out on their own. On the flip side, this made me very resilient and independent.
My go-to meal has to be poached egg and smashed avocado on toast. It’s nutritious but also very tasty. However, my favourite is salmon, new potatoes and green beans with broccoli.
FitrWoman has helped me keep a log of my menstrual cycle. Before I got the app, I had no way of knowing when I was due my period. After getting the app, I could plan my 3-4 week cycle with my coach. It has enabled us to work out when we can push on in training and when I will be feeling the worst, and so it’s best to ease off training for those few days. This has helped my body recover quicker but also helped me psychologically. I used to get frustrated when I didn’t feel great in training, but now having an answer to why I am feeling that way definitely calms me down when I’m in the pool. It allows me to concentrate purely on the process of the session rather than getting distracted by things out of my control.
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