COOL IN THE POOL

How Rachael is mak­ing a splash all the way to 2012

Daily Mail - - Magnificent Seven -

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

Olympian.

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

Through­out the year, for­mer Olympic bad­minton sil­ver medal­list GAIL EMMS will join our Mag­nif­i­cent Seven ath­letes, try­ing out their dif­fer­ent sports and find­ing out what makes them tick. Here, in the first in the se­ries, Gail in­ter­views Paralympic...

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