News Thanet Roadrunners-supported swimmer success at National Championships Thanet Roadrunners-supported swimmer success at National Championships


Report by Ed Heardman
2010-09-10 20:59:33

Thanet Roadrunners-supported swimmer success at National Championships

Alexander Wilmshurst , a recent recipient of a grant from the Thanet Roadrunners AC Young Persons Sports Development Fund, had a great few days at the National Swimming Championships. It's terrific to see young local sporting talent competing at a national level - well done Alexander!  Read more about his pre-tournament run-up and impressive performance below.


British Gas ASA Age Group National Championships



In the weeks leading up to Nationals I increased my swimming training so that I could be in the best physical condition for this event which meant that I was training 7 times a week; Sunday afternoon, Monday, Tuesday and Friday evening plus Monday, Thursday and Friday morning starting at 5.45. In addition, the Kent ASA also arranged some training sessions at Crystal Palace for all Kent swimmers that had achieved National Qualifying times so that we had experience in a 50m pool – all my training is in a 25m pool at Margate and Ramsgate but Nationals are swam in a 50m pool. 

The week before Nationals I started to ‘taper’ my training i.e. reduce the number of sessions and the intensity of the sessions so that I wasn’t swimming ‘tired’ at Nationals. In addition 4 days before the start of Nationals I started a ‘carb-loaded’ diet where I increased my carbohydrates and also reduced fatty food. This was to give energy and endurance for the 5-days of Nationals. It got very annoying at times as I couldn’t have things like sweets and crisps!


The Journey

We left for Sheffield on Tuesday and picked my Dad up from work at lunchtime and drove the 250 miles to Sheffield, it took us about 4 ½ hours before we arrived at our cottage in the middle of the Peak District about 20 miles outside Sheffield. On the journey I read my book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) and played ‘Bopit’. Another one of my swimming mates from the same club who also qualified for Nationals was staying in the cottage next to us. They had arrived on the Saturday and they made dinner for us when we arrived – Lasagne! However, I had to get to bed early because Warm-up started at 7.15.


Gala Day 1

I woke at 5.30 on the Wednesday morning and we left at 6.00 so that we could arrive in good time at Ponds Forge to meet our coach and collect our competitor passes. Warm-up lasted an hour and the 1stEvent started at 8.30. My first race was the 200m Breaststroke, which was the 4thEvent which meant that I had quite a wait. I knew that I had to swim a lot faster than my Personal Best (PB) to make the Finals because there were 19 boys who had qualified faster than me for Nationals and only 10 make the Final. Well I won my Heat in 2.57.97, which was a 9 second PB, but I still had to wait for the 19 other swimmers who swam after me to see whether it was good enough. In the end it was and I actually qualified 3rdfastest. I was very happy. 

Because Finals weren’t until the evening we drove back to the cottage so that I eat and rest before returning for warm-up at 4.00 with Finals starting at 5.00. 

The Finals were just like the Olympics with stirring music and all the officials walking out in precision. Each competitor in the Final is then announced onto the Blocks, it then all goes quiet as the race comes under the control of the Starter. A short whistle and we stand on our blocks, ‘take your marks’, beep – we’re off. Again, I knew that I had to swim faster again if I was to get a medal. My coach before the race talked through my race strategy and not to swim out so fast on the first 100m so that I still had something left for the final 50m. It worked a treat; I improved my time by another 2 seconds and won a BRONZE in 2.55.82. Wow, I couldn’t believe it. 

Straight after the race we were presented with our medals – it really did feel like the Olympics! 

No time to celebrate because I needed to get home, eat and then to bed because I had 2 more races early the following morning.


Gala Day 2

First up was the 100m Freestyle; I swam another PB in 1.05.36 finishing in 14thfastest just outside a place in the Finals. Next the 200m Individual Medley, that’s were you swim 50m Butterfly, 50m Back, 50m Breaststroke and then 50m Freestyle.  This time I swam just outside my PB but still finished overall 15thfastest. I didn’t make the Finals on Day 2 but at least it meant I could get back to cottage and get a good rest for Day 3.


Gala Day 3

Day 3 was unknown territory for me because I have never swum in a gala for more than 2 consecutive days let lone 5. Anyway it started with the 400m Freestyle and I swam a time of 4.54.75 which meant I finished 9thfastest in the Heats good enough to make the Final but I knew I could swim faster. So again back to the cottage for food and this time an afternoon nap before the Finals in the evening. I think this worked a treat because in the Final I swam a much better time 4.49.87 which was another PB and also meant I finished 6thin the Final. I was very happy with that.


Gala Day 4

Same routine; back to cottage, re-fuel, bed up at 5.30am – Day 4. Again another 2 races this time 200m Freestyle followed shortly afterwards by the 100m Breaststroke. I swam a good time in the 200m Free in 2.22.54 which meant I finished 17thfastest but my real sights were on the 100m Breaststroke where I was determined to make another final. But again I knew that I had over 20 swimmers who were faster than me based on their entry time. I swam my Heat in 1.24.00, which was a really good time, and another PB and I thought it would be good enough to make the Final but I still had to wait for another 3 Heats to be certain. In the end it was and I finished 5thfastest. So quickly back to cottage, eat and a 2-hour sleep. 

When I got to the pool I did my warm-up and I talked to my coach about the race. He told me to try and ‘psyche’ out the 4 swimmers who were faster than me. They will be looking at each other thinking that the medals will be decided between the 4 of them. Instead don’t look at them make them look at you but be cool and relaxed before the race by limbering up then take them by surprise in the race. 

I was focused and determined. Again I knew I had to swim faster in fact a lot faster perhaps a 39.00 for the first 50m and 43.00 for the second 50m; overall about 1.22.00, 2 seconds faster than the Heats. In the end I did a 38.36 for the first 50m and a 42.60 for the second 50m – 1.20.96 over 3 seconds faster and yes another BRONZE. Needless to say both the 50m and the 100m times were both new PBs. 

Still no time to celebrate because I had another day left and probably the most gruelling of the races as my last race on the last day, the 400m Individual Medley.


Gala Day 5

One more race and I wanted to give it my all and I swam a time of 5.33.83 another 4 second PB and good enough to make the Final as 8thfastest. However, I knew that after 5 days of swimming I just didn’t have anything left. I spoke with my coach and agreed that it was unlikely that I would get a medal so we decided that I would not swim in the Final.


Overall based on the 7 events that I swam in at Nationals I came 6thOverall.


Summary of Results:

200m Breaststroke                 3rd

100m Breaststroke                 3rd

400m Freestyle                       6th

400m Individual Medley          8th

100m  Freestyle                      14th

200m Individual Medley          15th

200m Freestyle                       17th


Thank you to Thanet Roadrunners for sponsoring me.


Alexander Wilmshurst




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