Life has been pretty hectic over the past few months. I moved away from the island to start Year 10 at Mount Kelly, a renowned school in England for coaching and educating some of the finest swimmers. The school has a fantastic programme for Para Swimmers like me and it has an impressive track record of coaching athletes who have gone on to win Olympic medals in Beijing (2008) and the 2012 games in London. Safe to say my training has definitely stepped up, but I have never felt more in my element!
What I was most excited about was meeting other athletes on my swimming programme. In particular, I was surprised by how many have joined all the way from Hong Kong, Germany, Mexico, Dubai, Italy and Turkey. Suddenly, the Isle of Man doesn’t seem so far away! The new intake also includes junior World Record holders and it’s been very motivating to be training in an environment where everyone encourages each other to push harder.
Competition wise, it has been a busy summer! In June, I competed in the National Para-Swimming Junior Championships in Sunderland, and came away with six medals. I got four gold medals (100m Freestyle, 100m Breaststroke, 50m Freestyle and 400m Freestyle), one silver (200 Individual Medley) and one bronze (100m Backstroke) in the 14-16 age group events. I had so much fun over the two days and I even managed to achieve a new personal best time!
I was in Sheffield at the start of August for the Swim England Summer Championships (which used to be called the ASA Summer Champs). I raced in seven events, and since the championships were open to competitors of all ages, I was racing against much older and more experienced swimmers. I qualified for the 50m, 100m and 400m Freestyle events, and I was the youngest swimmer to reach the finals in the Paralympic categories. I even managed to win the bronze medal for the 400m event, taking the podium alongside swimmers who were much older than me. I was very happy with my performance.
My next event was the British School Games in Loughborough in the beginning of September. Loughborough University is the only higher education institute to host a School Games, and the campus offers athletes like me an experience similar to the Olympic and Paralympic village. It was my first experience living in an athlete’s village and the atmosphere was fantastic – I even got to see Adam Peaty during a warm up session! The games were also a great opportunity to see other top athletes competing in other sports. By the end, I didn’t want to leave!
I was one of 170 athletes to represent the country and I swam for the North of England Team in the 100m Freestyle, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Medley events. I won three medals, picking up two silvers in the 200m and 100m Freestyle events and a bronze in the 100m Breaststroke.
Next up, I will be working with Dave White, my new British Swimming Pathway Officer at the Talent England Swim Camp in Bristol which I will be attending with two other Para Swimmers from Mount Kelly. Working with Dave is a fantastic opportunity.
My focus in the next few months will be on continuing to step up my training and transitioning into my new schedule, especially as my volume will increase from swimming between 15km and 18km per week, to between 38km and 42km at Mount Kelly. On top of that I’ll be hitting the gym five times a week!
Thanks to Microgaming’s continued support, I’ve been able to achieve my goals and more these past two years. I am loving every moment and although I miss the island at times (Mum especially, but don’t tell her I said that!), I feel like I am exactly where I should be and I’m looking forward to embracing the new challenges ahead.