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From Russell With Love: June Update

12th June 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 back on her recent training camp in Majorca with the rest of the British Disability Swimming team as well as her visit to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party.

It was 3am and I was all set, ready to head to the airport for a training camp in Majorca! Both Mum and Dad came with me in the car and said farewell before I joined some of my GB team mates at Stansted.

I was fortunate to re-unite with two of my flat roommates from London 2012, Amy Marren and Harriet Lee, who were also travelling from Stansted. What a laugh we had! Three hours later and we had landed in sunny Spain.

Hannah Russell and Amy MarrenAt the hotel, before I knew it, Amy had already selected the best bed. We were the first group there, bright and early making the most of a day off before the hard work began. Throughout the evening other groups arrived and settled into their rooms before the camp officially started the next morning.

I was going to be in Mick Massey’s coaching group which I was really looking forward to, having trained with him on previous occasions. He knows how I work, which I think is crucial in order to build a strong coach athlete relationship.

‘Team Massey’ was awesome - Claire Cashmore, Dan Pepper, Jon Fox, Josef Craig and me. Together we helped each other through the tough sets with our fantastic motivational quotes!

Land training was brutal. We did lots of core work, even before a main set. 'Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger'… well it nearly did! One circuit saw me nearly somersaulting over a set of seating – quite scary if you ask me!

BEST Training Centre in MajorcaThe food in Majorca was amazing. Taking London 2012 out of the equation, no other venue has topped the food. Our plates were stacked full. The team nutritionist Stef Shreeve was keeping a constant eye on how full our plates were - no wonder my iliac crest measurements have increased!

There was no rest for us on the Saturday - Susie Rodgers, Charlotte Henshaw, Claire and I dared ourselves to bare the cold sea water and have a cooling sea swim! All four of us were screaming and Susie managed to freak us all out when she shouted “OMG…there’s something red!”. It ended up to be a pipe, haha!

British Gas then treated the team to a special meal out on the Saturday evening which was lovely!

On the Sunday afternoon we had a fun volleyball session on the beach. Being a VI, I was a bit nervous about playing because I cannot see the ball until it's too late but I forced myself to give it a go. 

The swimmers set an aim to see who could make our new Perfomance Director Chris Furber lose his balance and go under the water. I tended to start with the ball, my serves weren’t too bad and guess what? I accomplished it and he fell in!

Disaster struck at the start of the second week. I came out to the camp with a slightly strained and overused left shoulder. When it came to the main set, BOOM; it all set off again.

All four of us were screaming and Susie managed to freak us all out when she shouted: "OMG... there's something red!"

Ali the physio was great and sprung to attention to treat the situation, giving me soft tissue massage, acute acupuncture and strapping. Boy, did I get a great strap mark, haha! Unable to swim, I blasted out a few spinning and running sessions with Paul Wilson which was great fun, but very tough! I loved the variety of training. It’s always nice to try something new when you have the chance! 

No camp can ever pass without the team quiz! It was great fun, super team spirit and competitiveness - nothing was left to chance! I also experienced a few paper missiles flying my way! Thanks mates!

British Gas GBR Disability Swimming Team in Majorca

I have to say the one thing I love about GB training camps is the motivation shown by the athletes, coaches and support staff!

It came to the painful lactate tolerance set.…I had to do it all on kick; the challenge was on! Being partially sighted, I rely on my hearing a lot so my lane coach Mick was running up and down like a headless chicken whilst I was battling/smashing it up and down the pool, he was screaming at me “25M TO GO…15M TO GO…5M HEAD DOWN HEAD DOWN ALL FOR MONTREAL”.

It may sound crazy, but this method of coaching I definitely benefit from. I know where I am in the pool – it helps me push myself that little bit further, even though your legs are burning you can’t stop and give up, you wouldn’t do it in a race so why now? The sense of relief after completing that set was amazing, my legs were burning – that was another set banked!

Being partially sighted, I rely on my hearing a lot so my lane coach Mick was running up and down like a headless chicken!

Before we knew it we had arrived at the airport all booked in and ready for our flight back! With a solid two weeks of training under our belts we were ready to go home to a surprisingly sunny England!

If it wasn’t for Sarah Starbuck, Rob Aubry etc… this camp wouldn’t have been able to take place, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them and all other coaches and support staff for a great camp!

A casual invite to Queens Garden Party at Buckingham Palace was next on the agenda!

Hannah Russell and her Dad at the Queen's Garden Party, Buckingham PalaceI was very fortunate to be invited and I decided to take my Dad with me - he’s been a superstar, always there for me and one of my biggest supporters!

What a great day we had, meeting the Duke of Kent and meeting up with teammates from London 2012! It was lovely how they set out tea, sandwiches and cakes for all invited; definitely filled the spot!

With the end of the London 2012 celebrations, it is now time to set our eyes on the IPC World Championships held in Montreal in the summer, and hopefully Rio De Janeiro 2016 Paralympics in just over three years time!

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