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From Russell With Love: January Update

24th January 2013

Hannah Russell won three medals on her Paralympic debut in the S12 visually impaired classification at London 2012. In her first blog for swimming.org, she looks back on her winter training camp in Dubai with the British Disability Swimming squad.

I was delighted to be told that I had been chosen to go to Dubai for a warm weather training camp. I feel so lucky to have all the opportunities given to me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at British Disability Swimming and UK Sport; without their support, hard work and dedication none of these trips could take place.

Hannah Russell and Nicole LoughWe left for Dubai on the 8th December: I remember arriving at the airport and first of all seeing Nicole Lough, then out of nowhere I heard ‘HANNAH!’ and I thought to myself that could only be one person… Amy Marren! She greeted me with a massive hug (after initially falling over in a rush of excitement).

I was fortunate enough to sit next to Nicole for the whole 10 hour flight (not forgetting the two hour delay!). It was the first long-haul flight I can ever remember going on. I was amazed by the entertainment we received on the flight though – it was so much fun and time flew by!

We landed at 2:30am and before we knew it we had arrived at the hotel. We were given our room keys – each room was a twin room and I was sharing with Amy again. I had previously shared with her on many camps including the two weeks in the Village at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

We’d all been told about the standard of hotels out in Dubai but we never expected anything like what we were given! Our instant reaction was running around screaming and then we filmed our rooms for our parents to see.

Amy is one of my closest friends, always smiling, happy and honest! I can trust her with a lot of things and she is always there for me!

Our song is ‘We are young’: now whenever we hear the song we have to send a video of our self singing! We also have a little quote “You are my right hand and I am your eyes” which of course Amy takes credit for, a quote which is totally relevant!

Hannah Russell and Amy MarrenFor the duration of the camp, each athlete was allocated a swim coach who took charge of a group of five or six athletes.

I was teamed with Amanda Booth and I very quickly got to know Amanda as the days went by; her style of coaching in particular. Other athletes in my group were Rosie Bancroft, Claire Cashmore, Ollie Hynd and Matt Wylie. As a group we all bonded really well. When sets got tough we were all there side by side motivating each other on!

There were always those times when we got the giggles because of something hilarious which may have occurred in the session, but when the session got serious we all got down to business. There was a great athlete-coach relationship too; I loved having Amanda as I coach!

Every session Amanda would take me on the side of the pool, as the demonstrator to the group so others in the group could see what exactly was expected whilst I was getting a feel for the drill. Amanda was great at differentiating tasks, to compliment my disability!

For our weekend off the team manager Adam Murphy organised a trip to the Mall of the Emirates on Saturday to see so many designer shops all in one place. This was amazing – even though a lot of us window shopped the majority of the time.

Following on from that in the evening there was a squad meal organised in a well-known restaurant in the centre which was lovely. I was on a table with Amy, Nicole and Chloe who was also celebrating her 14th birthday.

On the Sunday we had a trip organised to the Wild Wadi Waterpark which was fantastic! Many of the rides there were extreme but were so much fun, including the fastest water slide in the world which many of us went on.

Hannah Russell Dubai Training CampWe ended the camp on a massive high, having a fun session as our last session. Our group had to get together and plan a suitable session for us to complete including swim, pull, kick, technical drills etc… The session started off with a festive theme, two teams were picked and I was put with ‘The Reindeers’, Andrew Mullen being the captain.

We had to be creative and festive whilst creating a pre-pool warm up. Then we finished off the session with some fun relays which the coaches took control of.  

Overall, I had a superb time out in Dubai. I definitely find camps away with the team very beneficial. I always come back having learnt a lot from coaches about the technical side of my stroke, and improvements to be made. The challenge is then to put it into practice in a home programme which I am currently in the middle of doing now!

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