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From Russell With Love: October Update

9 October 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 first IPC World Championships in Montreal, taking a summer break with her family and resuming training for the 2014 season at Kelly College.

On 5 August we flew directly to Montreal, one week prior the start of the 2013 IPC World Championships. It was my 17th birthday so I quite enjoyed spending 29 hours celebrating it, especially as I managed five meals and of course lots of healthy snacks!

Hannah Russell, Jessica-Jane Applegate and Amy MarrenThe week building up to Worlds was great. I was put in a group with Amy Marren (also my roommate), Jessica-Jane Applegate, Andrew Mullen and James Clegg with our group coach being Rob Aubry. We all got on really well which was fab! During the week's training we were lucky to be able to use a mixture of both the competition pool and the outdoor warm-up / warm-down pool.

I had quite a busy schedule of racing during the competition, competing in 50m, 100m and 400m Freestyle, 100m Back and 100m Butterfly. I started my Worlds debut competing in the 100m Free, posting a time just outside my personal best and winning silver behind the Russian Darya Stukolova.

It was a great first race and I was very pleased with the outcome. Most events went to plan (three silver medals already achieved) although I was devastated with my 400m Freestyle performance on day five of the competition; I was seconds off my personal best set at London 2012.

With that behind me, I just had to forget about it and focus on my final swim in the 100m Backstroke – one of my main events. I got myself into the zone, and visualised my starts and turns. Nothing could be left to chance – this was my moment to shine and prove to the world who I was.

“Take your marks, BEEP.”

The race was underway. Coming above the water I just gave it my all. I turned at the 50m mark having no idea where I was in the race. I knew it could be close, pushing off the wall and arising, as I could hear the crowd buzzing, getting louder. I dug in deep finding that little bit more and battled to the finish.

Hannah Russell gold World ChampsTurning around clueless, having no idea how I’d swam, my fellow competitor Darya Stukalova congratulated me across the lane so I knew I must have swam a good time. Then the loud speaker announced “S12 world champion in a time of 1:08:72, Hannah Russell”. I was shocked for an instant. My beaming smile said it all.

I had a mix of emotions, happiness, relief, shock – it was honestly a dream come true, being able to call yourself a ‘world champion’ . I felt on top of the world!

During the competition I was very lucky that my dad was able to fly out to come and support and watch me swim. Knowing I had a family member in the crowd made it that little bit more special. My Dad spoke to me after my disappointing 400m, set me straight and refocused me for my final race.

Finishing my 100m Backstroke and being able to run up to my proud dad and give him a big hug was very emotional. My mum, sister and other family members watched my races online on Channel 4 which they thought was great  even though they had a few late nights!

Sharing with Amy Marren once again was brilliant! She’s the best roommate anyone could ask for. Having shared on numerous occasions, we know how each other works and are always there for each other.

Like me, Amy also had a hectic schedule and was racing on the last day. Going back to London she waited for me to finish before the celebrations took place and with the promise in place I did exactly the same, so after the last day of racing we definitely did have a sleepless night!

Even though I adore the experience of competing abroad and going away with teammates, after two weeks it was definitely time to return home. An evening flight was ideal as we were all exhausted! Luckily I was placed on a row with Jessica-Jane and Amy – this was lovely, even though we did sleep the majority of the flight!

Walking out of the terminal hearing all GB parents congratulating us was brilliant and with my mum shouting out my name with my family behind her was a fantastic thing to come home too!

Hannah Russell blog beach

That Saturday I went to South West France on holiday with my family and extended family. We spent our time on the beach, diving in the waves and tanning on the beach.

This year I was taught how to catch and swim in with the waves by my dad which was awesome and great fun; although I had to be careful of getting tumbled and dragged underneath the water! SW France is renowned for its fearful waves!!!

I always love eating so we had lots of barbeques, seafood and enjoyed dining out – my favourite treats being gaufres (waffles) or crepes (pancakes) with nutella and whipped cream, yum!

Hannah Russell familyOn 2 September it was back down to Tavistock to start my last year of Kelly College, completing my second year of a BTEC Level 3 National Diploma in Sport (Performance & Exellence).

I had just over two weeks off training before I started back into the usual schedule. I have to admit it was very tough getting back into the early mornings and swimming routine. Having to set my alarm once again at 4:30am was not the nicest feeling, although it has to be done!

Having Robin Brew as my new coach is brilliant - it took me just a few sessions to get used to each other, although there’s a great coach-athlete relationship building up which is vital. These first few weeks have been all about getting back into routine, the main focus for me being technique.

We're still discussing goals at this moment in time and I know I have a lot of things which I need to work on, although that is what makes every session exciting!

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