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Ross Davenport Blog: Competition Time

4th November 2011

Four-time Commonwealth medallist Ross Davenport reports on his progress in the past month, which saw him return to competition for the first time since the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.

October saw my first return to competition since July. The events were nothing like the scale of the World Championships but with 99 per cent of our time dedicated to training, it’s always nice to start racing competitively again.

I've competed at three competitions in the last month; each a step up from the one before.

The last six weeks training has concentrated on fitness and speed and competition offers the chance to apply the skills we’ve been honing to race scenarios.

I've competed at three competitions in the last month; each a step up from the one before.

The first was at Loughborough in the pool where we train every day.  All the Loughborough squads – Development, University and Elite – competed against each other in the ‘Big 50 Challenge’, a competition/training set that Loughborough coaches devised around five years ago.

Each swimmer has to enter in each category of stroke: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle; plus an underwater race.  The races all cover 50 metres, hence the big ‘50’ challenge. 

Added to the five 50 metre races is a 100 metre individual medley, which means 25 metres of each stroke. All of the times are added up at the end of the evening and the swimmer with the least is the winner.

There’s no prize at stake, just an enormous amount of pride!  My target was to finish in the top five and I did - eventually coming fifth overall.

Being a 200 metre swimmer, the ‘Big 50’ isn’t  exactly my forte, but it’s always a great laugh and brings the swimmers closer together in creating a brilliant atmosphere.

Loughborough University enjoys a fantastic team spirit, which I believe is a key reason for its success.

Next up was the Lincoln Vulcans Open Meet, which was actually staged in Sheffield. I entered five events (200m Fly, 200m IM, 100m Fly, 50m Free, and 100m Free), three of which I have either never done before or rarely ever compete in.

Everyone likes being recognised for what they have achieved. It’s a pleasure whenever young or old swimmers ask for your autograph.

Entering the different events was a deliberate strategy intended to familiarise me with racing again and I really enjoyed it.  There was no pressure because I didn’t know what to expect.

Sometimes it’s healthy to stand up and race the person next to you without putting too much pressure on yourself about goals. This was what the afternoon was about for me, so that was what I did.

A strong presence of GB swimmers at the meet meant it was a great opportunity for young, up-and-coming swimmers to race their heroes. Meanwhile, swimmers as young as 10 were able to watch those who have won gold medals at Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European levels, and grab a few autographs.

Everyone likes being recognised for what they have achieved, and swimmers are no different. It’s a pleasure whenever young or old swimmers ask for your autograph.

My final competition of the month was just last weekend. Not in sunny Loughborough or the tropics of Sheffield, but this time in the cosmopolitan German city of Berlin.

The FINA World Cup Series travels across the world, stopping in Dubai, Stockholm, Moscow, Berlin, Singapore and Beijing, before finishing in Tokyo. I only competed in the Berlin leg of the tour because it fit with our training phase and the travel time is manageable.

I was really pleased with my performance, managing to qualify for the 400m Freestyle final, an event that isn’t normally my strongest. And on top of that I managed a second place finish.

I’m never disappointed if I know I’ve given 100 per cent leading up to an event, and in the race itself. Also I can’t be disappointed in coming second to a world champion and world record holder in Paul Biedermann!

My main event was the 200m Freestyle the next day.  Again I managed to qualify for the final but this time missed out on the medals, finishing fourth. I was still pleased with the performance, both the time and position, and in the way I swam the race. Training labours are now showing signs of bearing fruit in race scenarios.

Now back from Berlin I have three weeks more in Loughborough before heading out to Florida for a training camp.  In this time I plan to work on getting as fit as possible so I can go to Florida and put a great four to five weeks of training in.

I plan to work on getting as fit as possible so I can go to Florida and put a great four to five weeks of training in.

Before heading out I’ll also be able to enjoy time at home with family, friends and of course the dogs!  This week was the first birthday of our golden retriever puppy. I wasn’t around for it but I know for sure that both dogs, Alf and Poppy were spoilt rotten – even though it wasn’t Alf’s birthday! (Not that either of them really had any idea what was going on).

On the subject of down-time, next month I’m looking forward to using a Christmas present from my girlfriend Claire.  We’re off for a live comedy double-header: Jason Manford in Derby followed by Alan Carr in London the next day.

It’ll be a treat to chill out with a rare weekend away from the pool.  Hopefully I’ll be able to get to a Derby County game over this next three weeks too, because after then time will be in short supply.

The road to London is getting closer by the day. Each day I wake up thinking it’s another chance of working as hard as possible to realise my dreams of competing at a third Olympic Games.

Thanks as ever for all the good luck wishes and for all the support.  It’s always appreciated.

Ross is supported by TBS Enterprise Mobility and Composed Communication - view his blogspot here.

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