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Roberto’s Racing Line Blog - January 2013

JANUARY 2013

Hi. I’m Roberto. I reached the 400m IM final at my first World Championships in 2011 and competed in my first Olympic Games for TeamGB at London 2012.

World Short Course

Qualifying for the World Short Course Championships was the icing on the cake of 2012. It was the last rung on the ladder for me in my swimming career. There was one box left to tick in terms of international competitions, and that was it.

Since 2010 when I qualified for my first senior international meet, I have competed at the Commonwealth Games, European Long and Short Course Championships, World Long Course Championships, the Olympic Games, and now, World Short Course.

So before I arrived in Turkey in early December, I was already proud of my achievement, since a big philosophy of mine is taking things one step at a time.

From a very young age my Dad instilled this mentality in me. It prevents a bad performance from becoming an overwhelming disappointment, but also stops complacency after a goal has been achieved.

Following every milestone in my career was the desire to reach the next step, and now I can say that I have achieved all of the steps, and regardless of what happens now, that will always be the case.

I really enjoyed the meet in Turkey, for numerous reasons. The first of which was the fact that it was a short course competition, something that I don’t normally get much experience of, especially at such an elite level.

Swimming short course has different challenges to those of long course, and for me this lies within my turns. Being shorter, my weaknesses around the walls are really highlighted in short course swimming, and so it gave me a good opportunity to assess any progress I have made in the last year.

Secondly, I had the privilege of being selected to race in the 4x100 and 4x200 Freestyle Relays, which for anyone who knows the type of swimmer I am, was a real surprise. I had never swam a senior international relay before so I was really excited to be a part of that ‘team’ atmosphere, and in the 4x200 we managed to make the final and come seventh

Thirdly, the atmosphere on the team was relaxed and everyone was so supportive. After such a high profile year with the Olympics and British Swimming’s perceived ‘failure’, it was nice to race under more calm circumstances and enjoy the experience rather than being too caught up on results. Having said that, this relaxed environment provided some great medals for us and GBR really exceeded expectations in that respect.

Christmas

Over Christmas and New Year our training was interrupted slightly to allow us to spend time with family, which is always a treat.

I hadn’t been home for longer than eight hours since my break after the Olympics so it was great to see everyone again. I also got to enjoy a different turkey to that of a few weeks before!

We can’t be too indulgent though because we know that the following week, our training will be geared around getting rid of any excess calories. Our coach, Kevin, is a real Grinch when it comes to Christmas! 

Changes to Trials

British Swimming have announced changes to the schedule this year, and with trials for the World Championships in Barcelona now being in late June as opposed to early March like this year, our training cycles have had to be adjusted. To be honest, I don’t think it should cause too much of a problem because I will still have to perform at my best on a given day. Whether that be in March or June, my season will be designed to help me peak at that competition.

As a replacement meet in spring, we now have the British Gas International Swimming Meet to be held in March in Leeds. I will be entering my main events here so this will give me a good indicator as to how things are going, how tweaks to my technique are coming along, how race tactics are working out, what sort of fitness I have, that sort of thing.

January and February

In the first few weeks of the year, one thing is for certain, I will be very cold! This year will be the first time in six years that I have spent an entire winter in the UK!

Since January 2008 I have spent at least five weeks in Australia over the January-February period, avoiding the worst of the British weather and minimising the risk of illness.

This year however, with concerns over funding, I will have to make do with Loughborough, and as I’m writing this it is in fact snowing. Yesterday, our session was cancelled because the pool couldn’t be opened. A far cry from this time last year when I was training outdoors in 35 degree sunshine and spending the weekends at the beach!

I still have the Gold Coast weather update on my iPhone just as a reminder! You can probably tell I’m missing it!

Nonetheless, a pool is a pool, and regardless of the weather outside, we still have a job to do. In the early months of 2013 training will have a short term target of getting good performances in Leeds in March, whilst keeping things in line for peaking in June for the World Championship qualifiers.

We have a couple of competitions, which will be my first long course races since the Olympics! In February I will race at the Derventio Excel Open Meet, and the BUCS (British University and College Sport) Championships, both held in Sheffield. These will serve as preparation for Leeds and help me practise my race tactics and perfect my technique during racing.

In the meantime I will be wrapping up warm, drinking hot chocolate and keeping the heating on…

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