Hard training has started to pay off for Johnson
5th December 2011
Liz Johnson knows that in the world of swimming, a lot can change in four years.
Returning from Beijing as SB6 100m Breaststroke Paralympic champion, Johnson decided she needed a change of pace, upping sticks and moving from Swansea to Bath University to work under a new coach in Mark Skimming.
I moved to Bath and everything totally changed - I was doing 25% more volume of training than prior to Beijing.
And while the Welsh swimmer was continuing to progress in her first two seasons at Bath –breaking the SB6 100m Breaststroke world record at the 2010 British Gas Swimming Championships – she slipped off the top spot at the major international championships.
At the 2009 European Championships in Reykjavik, British teammate and friend Charlotte Henshaw pipped her to gold while a year later at the World Championships in Eindhoven, new American sensation Mallory Weggermann won gold with Henshaw taking silver and defending champion Johnson settling for bronze.
But in 2011, the Welsh swimmer returned to the top of the pile, slicing more than half a second off her personal best to win her first European title in Berlin and end the season rankings as number one in the world.
So what inspired Johnson’s return to form? The 26-year old insists her hard work in the training pool during the preceding two years meant it was only ever a matter of time.
“After Beijing I had to take some time where I just re-assessed my life and where I was going to base myself for the next four years,” said Johnson.
“I moved to Bath and everything totally changed for me – my training, my body shape, my life style. All of a sudden I was doing 25% more volume of training than prior to Beijing.
“I expected good results but I’d go and while I wouldn’t swim badly, I wouldn’t swim as well as my training suggested.
“So after the World Champs in 2010, we had a sit down and looked at what was happening. I realised the four years between one Paralympics and the next is massive.
“It’s one huge cycle so those first two years where I did all the excessive volume and really hard training had prepared me last year to start doing more technical stuff.
“It put me in the position where I was able to focus on the more race-specific stuff. That’s what you saw at Europeans and even now I’m building on that all the time.
“I started this season far better than I’ve ever started any season.”
I just want to go to the trials and qualify so instead of talking about how amazing London 2012 could be, I’ll know I’m going and it will be amazing.
With the shackles off and Johnson raising the bar on the world stage once more, it’s no surprise that she’s counting down the days to an eagerly awaited match-up between herself, Weggermann and Henshaw at London 2012.
But before she can truly get excited about the Games, she knows she has the matter of qualification to negotiate at the British Gas Swimming Championships in March.
“I’m really excited now that we’re getting to the business end because everybody’s goal is always the Paralympics but at times it can seem so far away,” said Johnson.
“But now it’s the next big thing. It’s right there and at the forefront. I just can’t wait for the trials now.
“I just want to know. I just want to go to the trials and qualify so instead of talking about how amazing London 2012 could be, I’ll know I’m going and it will be amazing.”