COOL IN THE POOL
How Rachael is making a splash all the way to 2012
Gail: You’re now at university. How do you balance training, studying and socialising?
Rachael: It’s really hard when it comes to exam time. It’s difficult to cram everything in, but my swimming always comes first — that’s who I am, a swimmer. But having moved away from home, I now realise that there are also other sides to me — student, friend, girlfriend. I actually took a year out before university to be totally focused on the Olympics in Beijing. It’s been tough this year, my second year doing Sports Development at Sheffield Hallam, there’s more work and less time to see my friends.
G: Striking that balance will help you develop as an athlete. A more mature person deals with the pressure of competition better, do you agree?
R: Definitely. I’ve changed my coach — that was a bit traumatic. I’ve had the same coach all my life but training at a different pool meant I had to be mature and not have my parents help me out so much. I now have to manage my own time, which has helped me mature. I no longer have mum cooking me my tea and telling me when to get up.
G: The prospect of competing at London 2012 is scary. A part of me i s glad that I won’t have to compete under so much pressure. Are you frightened at the prospect?
R: Actually, no. Bring it on. The fun and madness in Beijing made me want to compete in London all the more. Having seen the crowd reaction to the three Chinese girls in my final, there’s no way I could miss my home games.
G: What tricks do you have to help you cope with the pressure of competition?
R: Visualisation. I pretend I’m in the race, I get into my little place and put my earphones in. It’s easy to visualise racing at Sheffield because I’ve been there thousands of times. But i t’s difficult to imagine racing in London because the pool’s not even finished yet. I’m sure we’ll get in there before the Games — and that should give us an advantage.
G: What track is your most listened to on your iPod?
R: In Beijing I had Snow Patrol’s
Run on repeat. I first heard it on a motivational DVD we were given by British Swimming, then I fell in love with it.
G: What do you think about when you’re swimming?
R: When I’m racing, I say to myself, ‘C’mon, c’mon. Let’s go,’ in my head, over and over again. I make my biggest decisions when training. I plan my life. I decided which university to go to during a training session.
G: Do you love winning more than swimming?
R: I love swimming but it’s racing that really gets me going. I mean, who likes losing?
G: What will you do if you win a medal in 2012?
R: Erm, I’d probably get drunk! And I’ll keep my medal in a cabinet my dad’s had made.
G: You’re packing your swimming bag — what’s the first thing you put in?
R: Goggles. I know it’s a bit wussy but I hate getting water in my eyes. I pack three pairs.
G: What’s your favourite TV show?
R: Friends, but I watched every episode of Sex And The City with my room-mate Natalie Jones in Beijing.
G: If you could appear on any reality TV show, which would it be ?
R: Can I go on Family Fortunes? I love it . . . and Vernon Kay!
G: Who are your sporting heroes?
R: Sarah Bailey (now Storey) and Sascha Kindred are my swimming idols. And it was amazing to meet Steve Redgrave, thanks to the
Daily Mail, he’s a great, great
G: Describe your perfect meal.
R: Garlic bread with cheese, yummy. Then lasagne, or a Sunday dinner, but I wouldn’t have that with garlic bread. And hot chocolate fudge cake with ice cream for dessert.
G: So, that’s the food sorted, who would be your top four dinner party guests?
R: My grandma, Grandma Latham, so she could see how I’ve grown up, David Beckham — just to look at — Cheryl Cole and Michael McIntyre.
G: If you could compete in any other sport, which would you choose?
R: Cycling. I’d like to do a sport where you can just get up and go. I have to get to a pool, get changed and then swim. I want to just be able to go.
G: If you won £1million on the National Lottery, what’s the first thing you’d buy?
R: A beach holiday somewhere tropical, like Mexico or the Caribbean.
G: What’s your worst habit?
R: Talking too much, when I start I cannot stop . . .
G: If you could swap places with any other sports star for a week, who would you choose?
R: Wayne Rooney. I want to know how much training you have to do for all that money. I wouldn’t mind taking a look in the Manchester United dressing room, too.
G: How do you spend your days off?
R: My only break from training is on Sundays and I don’t get out of bed before noon.
G: And, I don’t want to embarrass you, but does your busy life leave any time for romance?
R: I’ve got a boyfriend — we’re on the same course at university. He plays rugby league and has an understanding of what sport means. We were friends first.
PICTURE: ANDY HOOPER Going swimmingly: Rachael in practice and then (left) introducing Gail Emms to her world
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