I’ve never seen anything like this street in Florida
1st December 2011 - London Evening Standard
Ask any athlete when was the last time they didn’t feel tired or sore and they’d probably tell you it was before any of them started competing.
As for the next time when they won't feel so bad, it'll be when retirement comes. I've grown up doing this sort of thing so I'm not complaining at all.
Training's pretty intense - it always is at this time of year - but it's made easier by the fact that we are in Florida for a month-long camp. It's going well and I feel in a good place.
Today may be the first day of December but we've already been getting into the Christmas spirit here, thanks to the hotel owner. He mentioned this street near where we're staying that's particularly festive and I've never seen anything like it.
They're used to teams training here but the locals seem genuinely excited about the Olympics and the fact they'll be a home Games for us.
It's crazy, the entire place is covered in lights. There's one house that's top to bottom in them and we were talking to the guy who lived there who said he'd started putting up the lights after Halloween and it had taken him three weeks to do the entire house.
We tend to get noticed when we're out and about anyway. People hear our accents and they ask, "Where are you guys from?" They're used to teams training here but the locals seem genuinely excited about the Olympics and the fact they'll be a home Games for us.
Back to Christmas, it feels strange getting into the festive mood when it's sunny outside and you're sitting by the pool or you're walking on the beach in the sun. I watched my first Christmas film this year, Elf, with Will Ferrell, the other day. The guy's a comedy genius and everything he does just seems to work.
My all-time favourite Christmas film, though, has to be Home Alone 2. It's based in New York and I remember as a kid thinking that was the place I wanted to visit most of all.
Anyway, it's not quite Christmas and we've only just had Thanksgiving. It's obviously not something we celebrate in the UK but it was our first day off here and we marked it with a barbecue.
It was also my girlfriend Caitlin's birthday on Monday - she's part of the training group out here as well - so we all went out for a team meal to celebrate, got her a cake and sang happy birthday. We're all used to being away from home for our birthdays so we tried to make it feel as normal as possible for her. I think she had a good time.
Yesterday marked the launch of the new Speedo Fastskin3 swimsuit in London. Unfortunately, I couldn't be there - thankfully Speedo understand that training has to come first. It's something that I'm sure is going to cause quite a buzz in the swimming world. It's like no other combination of cap, goggles and suit I've worn before - I can't wait to race in it next year.
I've enjoyed being part of the development process and, while I couldn't be there for the launch, I've been doing some phone interviews from here to talk about it.
I'm sure it's going to cause quite a buzz in the swimming world - I can't wait to race in it next year.
Also, in my last column, I mentioned I was shooting an advert in Barcelona but couldn't say who for. Anyway, just to let you into that particular secret, it was for Gillette and yesterday I was announced as one of 11 British athletes as ambassadors for the various brands of Olympic sponsor Procter & Gamble.
I head back to England on December 14 and, until then, the focus is just on training. And in my downtime I'm going to continue watching as much American sport as possible.
We took in a basketball game last year but that's not possible with the season being delayed so I've been getting my sport fix by watching American football mostly on the TV.
Who knows, if time allows we might get to see a Miami Dolphins game.
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