Plotting her path to Paralympic gold
30th January 2012
While many of Great Britain’s top disability swimmers have spent the last three weeks at a warm-weather training camp in South Africa, Louise Watkin was one notable absentee.
With her coach John Stout unable to attend the camp, the quadruple Paralympic medallist opted to stay at home in Salford, deciding such an absence from her coach could prove damaging so close to the first Paralympic trials at the British Gas Swimming Championships in March.
I like to challenge myself so every training session I know that if I keep up with them I've had a pretty good training session.
So instead of soaking up the sun in Durban, Watkin made do with a winter in Manchester, plotting with Stout how she will turn her silver or one of her three bronzes into gold at London 2012.
But as difficult as that decision may have seemed, the 19-year old holds no qualms over going against the grain.
Having broken through at Redhill and Reigate Swimming Club in Surrey before moving to Kelly College and then City of Salford, Watkin has always trained and competed among able-bodied swimmers.
And while she would no doubt be welcomed with open arms at one of the British Disability Swimming High Performance Centres in Manchester or Swansea, Watkin is adamant she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“For me personally, there are definitely benefits [to training with AB swimmers],” said Watkin – who counts Paralympic champion Heather Frederiksen as one of her teammates at Salford.
“I like to challenge myself so every training session I know that if I keep up with them I’ve had a pretty good training session.
“I think that sometimes if I went and trained with just a disability squad, I get people with lower classifications and maybe for me I can’t challenge myself in the same way I can do with able-bodied.
“Every club I’ve trained at has had other disabled people though which for me is encouragement that it’s something they do within the club has worked.
“Heather was at City of Salford before and I knew it was working for her and obviously it was a good environment.”
With qualification to her second Paralympic Games in mind, Watkin admits it’s the S9 50m Freestyle, in which she is IPC World Champions and Olympic bronze medallist, she holds closest to her heart.
I like the 50m Free because it's the shortest - I like sprinting and that's the whole point.
But with further medal chances in the 100m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle, 100m Breaststroke and 200m Individual Medley, not to mention the relays, the youngster has no intention of putting all her eggs in one basket.
“I like to 50m Free because it’s the shortest distance – I like sprinting fast and that’s the whole point,” said Watkin.
“I also like the 100m Breast – I like the technical intricacies of it.
“But I prepare for every race the same. I want to swim fast and win. The 200m IM will be 4x50m lengths and each length will be as fast as possible. Then when it’s 50m Free – it’s one length max.”