IPC Europeans countdown: Q&A with Ellie Simmonds
Few have achieved more in the world of disability swimming than British teenager Ellie Simmonds in the past three years.
After her dramatic double gold as a 13-year old at the 2008 Paralympic Games, Simmonds scooped five titles on her European debut in 2009, six golds at the 2009 World Short Course Championships and seven medals (including four golds) at last year's World Championships.
And as the countdown to London 2012 approaches the one-year mark, Simmonds admits she's determined to continue her dominance at the 2011 European Championships in Berlin.
How has your season gone leading up to this European Championships?
It's gone really well so far and hopefully, touch wood, everything will be okay out here in Berlin as well. It feels like it's been quite a long time since the first trials in Manchester but it's come around now so I'm looking forward to competing on the first day.
This competition is obviously a year out before London 2012 so it will be interesting to see who is on the scene in Europe. I'm pleased that Mirjam (De Koning - Dutch double Paralympic champion) is back so I can see how she's swimming and hopefully have a few good races with her.
You're taking on five individual events in Berlin - why so many?
Yeah, I'm going to busy here. I do have a couple of days off though!
I'm doing my normal individual swims of 50 free, 100 free, 400 free and 200 IM but I'm also doing the 100 back. That's a new one for me. It's just to get into the pool and have a bit of a play around really - just a fun one.
Is it in your plans for London 2012 as well?
I don't know about that yet. A lot depends on how the schedule is for the Games because I don't want to be having too long a break not competing.
I'll see what the programme is and then maybe see if the 100 breast or the 100 back would fit in.
Going into London 2012 my four main events will be my main focus though.
You've achieved so much since Beijing - how quickly have the past three years gone?
Very quickly! After Beijing I thought London's still ages away but now I think back and I think those three years have gone so fast.
It's good and I'm excited that it's next year but it's quite nerve-wracking as well. It's the Paralympic Games which is such a big thing but having it as your home Games in London is even bigger.
So I'm looking forward to starting next season but I do know there's going to be a lot of pressure as well.
How much school do you manage to fit in around training and competing?
Well I've just done my GCSEs and I'm going into sixth form part-time next year studying world development, history and citizenship. It's quite a mixed bag but I enjoy all three subjects so I'm looking forward to it.
I think it's still good to be a student instead of just focusing on swimming. It means I can study and be with my friends as well as training - I get a good bit of both worlds.
If you've been in the pool for ages it can be a bit tiring going through the same routine all the time so you need a distraction away from it.
Find out when Ellie is competing in Berlin using our MyChamps schedule tool.