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British Champs build-up: Chris Walker-Hebborn at Bath ITC

1 March 2011

Leading up to the British Gas Swimming Championships 2011 at Manchester Aquatics Centre, Chris Walker-Hebborn discusses mental preparation for big competitions and how it has changed as he has grown older.

Taper has been going really well – impossible for it not to really! It’s what every swimmer looks forward too.

The best part of the British Champs is seeing everyone else - even my rivals.

As a squad, the metres have dropped accordingly as we see everyone suddenly spring to life with a bit more of an atmosphere at training due to the fast swimming and buzz before competition.

Obviously during taper it leaves us with a bit more spare time here and there so we try and get out and about and I've had a few evening meals out with friends.

My group at the British Gas ITC in Bath are heading up in our own time because some of us start earlier in the week but we will all stay in the same hotel along with the coaches and it will be a good atmosphere there.

My family won’t be attending as both of my parents have work and can’t get time off but I know they will be keeping a close eye on the results and be rooting for me every step of the way!

The best part of the British Champs is seeing everyone else –  interaction with everyone is great, even my rivals.

The last time I competed at Manchester was the Duel in the Pool in 2009 but I've got plenty of positive memories to draw on.

A lot of us will have good relationships outside of the pool but when we get in the pool, it's a different matter.

It's been a while since we had the trials at Manchester but it's a good place to swim.

The last time I was there was for the Duel in the Pool in 2009 which was a fantastic meet to be selected for. I guess my first memory of the pool was qualifying for my first European Junior Championships in 2007 so there's plenty of positive memories for me to draw on.

In terms of preparation, psychology is so important.

We were up four hours before we had to race, no matter what time it was.

You do confidence exercises throughout taper like suited stand-up swims but obviously you're going to have nerves going into a competition as well and it's important to be able to deal with them.

The best thing for me to do is look back on my training and know that I have done everything I can in order to produce the best result I'm capable of – I can do no more than that.

As an age group swimmer I never really had a routine – I just rocked up and did what I could.

But after returning from two years training at the British Offshore Centre in Australia and making that transition from junior to senior, a lot changed routine-wise.

We were up four hours before we had to race, no matter what time that was (sometimes as early as 5 AM) for our group wake-up walk where we help out body wake up before heading to the pool for our warm-up.

I have a set 1.6k warm-up that I like to stick to to help me prepare.

Between sessions it's important to stay relaxed. I have plenty of 'Jersey Shore' to catch up on since I was away in Australia so that will keep me entertained for a few days.

Plus my roommate and fellow Offshore lad Richard Butler has downloaded plenty of movies to keep us busy!


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