Roberto’s Racing Line Blog - October 2012
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.
The experience of a lifetime. The finalé to more than a decade of training. Total and utter enjoyment. There are many ways in which I could describe my time at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but none of them will truly get across to you how amazing it felt to be there.
Apart from being at the pinnacle of my sport, racing against the best swimmers in the world, and meeting some of the greatest sporting inspirations of all time, the London Olympics was special to me because of the way the British public got behind us.
It was such an overwhelming feeling, being at the event that was on everyone’s lips: ‘London 2012 this… London 2012 that…’. You couldn’t escape the Olympics.
Being a home Games, the whole country was behind us and this was really noticeable every time there was a Brit in the pool; the place erupted. It was like nothing I have ever experienced before with 17,500 people cheering and urging me on (although it is possible that they were cheering for someone else, since Michael Phelps was in both my heats, but I prefer to think the support was for me)!
My swims at the Games were not the best races I have done, nor were they particularly fast – at least not as fast as I had hoped – but they were not bad performances either.
My disappointment stemmed from the fact I did not make the final (400m IM) or semi-final (200m Fly), which meant I did not get to experience a home crowd in the final of an Olympic Games; a dream of most athletes.
Nevertheless, watching the finals from the stands only cemented my dreams of making the podium at the Olympics one day. Experiencing inspirational swims from Michael Jamieson and Rebecca Adlington, amongst others, definitely reinforced to me why I swim; I want to achieve great things.
After my races I enjoyed two weeks in the village watching numerous great sporting moments.
My favourite of which had to be in the stadium when Mo Farah won his second gold medal of the Games, and hearing 80,000 people singing ‘God Save the Queen’ as he was on the podium. I also got a chance to relax, spend time with the team and eat a lot of junk food!
I then spent a couple of weeks at home with my family in Essex. Unfortunately, I don’t get to go home as much as I would like because I live and train in Loughborough, so it is only the occasional weekend I can travel home.
After this I went to Sharm El Sheikh, in Egypt, with my girlfriend Georgia, for a two week holiday in the sun. It was 40 degrees every day, and with amazing snorkelling opportunities it was a great way to switch off from a tough four years of training.
I did try to do a few laps of the pool every couple of days, although by this time I'd had more than five weeks away from swimming and I had to give up after a very short distance because I could not swim any further!
The day after we got back from our holiday, I travelled into London for the Olympic Parade, which was again an overwhelming experience. I couldn't believe the level of support we received.
It seemed no work was getting done in London that day because everyone was out in the streets cheering us as we went by. Kids were in their school uniforms waving banners for us and employees were hanging out of their offices to get a glimpse of the stars like Chris Hoy and Jess Ennis.
Back to Training
And then I swiftly returned to reality, as the following day I travelled back to Loughborough to resume training with my squad. I was pleasantly surprised as our coach, Kevin Renshaw, had planned only one swim session a day, which definitely helped because at that point it felt as though I had forgotten how to swim!
However, by the next week, training stepped up considerably and the Olympics and all the joys that accompanied it were left far behind.
By the next week, training stepped up considerably and the Olympics were left far behind.
We are currently doing a lot of cross training, including running, cycling, weights, circuits, core sessions, rowing and rock climbing, as well as a heap of swimming of course.
This is all with the purpose of getting us back to full fitness as quickly as possible. My first aims this season are two short course meets, the first being BUCS (British University and College Sports) Championships in November, and then the World Short Course Championships in Turkey in December.
During my first few weeks at training I was asked by a local club (Loughborough Town) if I could come along to one of their sessions and teach some turn skills to their swimmers.
One boy even asked me to sign his head! It was permanent marker so I had to decline.
I went through the medley turns with about 30 12-18 year olds. They clapped me every time I completed a demonstration - it was nice to be appreciated!
At the end I signed a lot of autographs – which I am not used to, so it was very humbling – and one boy even asked me to sign his head! It was permanent marker so I had to decline, and signed his kick board instead!