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From Russell With Love: April Update

23rd April 2013

Hannah Russell won three medals on her Paralympic debut in the S12 visually impaired classification at London 2012. In her latest blog for swimming.org, she looks ahead to the trials for the 2013 IPC World Champs at the British International Disability Swimming Championships.

I stayed up in Manchester the week before the British Gas International Meet in Leeds at my grandparent’s house with my Dad - Carson.

I had the opportunity to train with Mick Massey and the Manchester HPC group in the dungeon underground at Manchester Aquatic Centre.

Having two competitions so close to each other meant that it was pointless to travel back to Kelly (Devon) and then repeat the journey back up a few days ahead. College were supportive and allowed me to have the week off; although they set me some work to do while I was away. During that week, I was lucky to have the opportunity to train with Mick Massey and the Manchester HPC group in the 'dungeon' underground at Manchester Aquatics Centre.

Straight from Manchester my Dad drove me up to Leeds where I met the rest of my Kelly team. This was the first time I had ever swum and competed at Leeds, so I had to get used to the surroundings! It was lovely to see everyone on the British Disability team again and catching up - I have to admit that’s always been one of my favourite parts of competitions, haha!

At the meet I managed to catch up with a few of the Team GB Olympic competitors including Liam Tancock which was great. The other Kelly swimmers asked if I could get a picture for them which I found quite funny! I have always been inspired by Liam, and we both competing in the same event, the 100m Backstroke.

There were both heats and finals in Leeds, and overall I was really pleased with my results, even though I didn't PB.

It was a massive step forward, put me in a good position and highlighted factors I needed to work on in training. To be honest I did find the warm down pool a bit of a struggle, not noticing it was a 20m pool, and smashed my head into the wall; typical!

After Leeds I got straight back into intense training with swimmers in my squad. Having a different competition focus, sessions started to split and I tended to do sessions on my own, which I loved! Between Robin (Brew, Kelly College head coach) and I, we agreed that my 'main' focus was sorting out my disastrous technique!

We agreed my main focus would be to sort out my disastrous technique!

Many times before I have been told I've got the 'speed' and the 'power' and just smash down the pool! Alongside my technique, I was to carefully focus on all aspects of my 400m Freestyle; but not neglecting my other events, still completing key sets of fly, backstroke and even IM!

Training Camp in Lanzarote

Just recently I set off on a warm weather training camp with Kelly to Lanzarote for a week. I was very fortunate that my Mum - Fiona and sister - Alice came with me; which I loved! It was great getting out of the miserable cold British weather to some beautiful sunshine and training outdoors.

Being a VI swimmer I have always found it a challenge to swim outdoors due to the brightness of the sun. I had to swim on my front for the majority of the camp, which for me having backstroke as one of my main strokes I found quite frustrating!

I have the best polarised speedo goggles there are on the market but it was still difficult – is there anyone out there who can create a very strong polarised lense? Your help would be much appreciated!

Whilst we were in Lanzarote my sister and I took on the challenge of completing 12 pool sessions, three gym sessions and one body pump session! It was tough but great fun too!

Emma Collings was the lead coach whilst we were out there. Some tough sessions were completed in the pool, but with fantastic motivation! In the gym we would work in pairs and completed a variety of intense circuits.

Thanks to Emma we managed to get a taster body pump session. Let’s just say afterwards I am glad that our sport is in water; the temperature was soaring!

We had Wednesday afternoon off which was lovely! Making the most of the afternoon we chilled in the apartments eating lunch before then lying outside absorbing the sunshine!

British International Disability Swimming Championships 2013

I'm so excited for trials; I cannot wait to get back into the pool and race! With training going really well it will be great to see how fast I can swim!

It still hasn't sunk in how last year I qualified for London; coming away with a silver and two bronze medals. Those two weeks were the best two weeks of my life (in sport), representing your country in front of a home crowd of 17,000, knowing your family and friends are amongst the crowds - it was a dream come true! My family were lucky enough to get front row tickets - with my Grandad James struggling to climb the stairs - I think they were very fortunate!

Fingers crossed, I hope I make the team and this will be my first World Championships - which will be really exciting! Having competed at the Paralympics last year I don’t know what to expect. Although I can say I would be buzzing to get back into the international scene and competing against all my rivals around the world!

I treat any competition exactly the same, whether it be a club competition, nationals or Paralympics - getting my mind set and focused on the job I need to do, control the controllables, think positive and change those nerves into excitement!

European Champs 2016