World Champs countdown: Ross Davenport blog
11 July 2011
Four-time Commonwealth medallist Ross Davenport fills us in on his progress as he flies out to the Far East for the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.
This post finds me a little further down the road to the World Championships in Shanghai, and ultimately another step closer to London 2012.
Since returning from the national training camp in Cyprus some five weeks ago, I've hauled myself across Europe and back again in the name of competition and training.
It was extremely satisfying to be up there challenging the best swimmers around while in the middle of heavy training.
It feels like East Midlands airport and budget airlines have become my second home!
At the beginning of June I travelled out to Barcelona with the rest of my training group to compete at the Mare Nostrum, a series of three competitions across Barcelona, Canet (southern France) and Monte Carlo.
Having competed at the series many times over the years, I knew some of the world’s best travel over for it. Although I only swam in the Barcelona leg, it was a really good training exercise.
I came third in my main event, the 200 metre freestyle, to two Russian swimmers who are European, World, and Olympic medallists, so it was no disgrace. In fact, it was extremely satisfying to be up there challenging the best swimmers around while in the middle of heavy training and highly fatigued.
Practising skills under pressure when you’re not fully rested and are feeling the effects of fatigue can actually be a great training exercise. If I did it here and swam well, I can be even better prepared for when it really matters on the world stage.
When the Barcelona event finished and the series went on to Canet, I took a mini four-day training camp at a place half an hour outside of Barcelona. It was only a brief stay because we had another competition coming up, this time in sunny Sheffield.
The Sheffield competition - the British Gas ASA National Championships - was used as a ‘top-up’ event for those who hadn't qualified to compete for the British team at the World Championships later this year.
Fortunately I’d qualified at the first time of asking back in March, but once again it was great practise trying new things and working on weaknesses within race scenarios.
I competed at an unusual distance for me, the 400 metres: double the distance of my main event. Sixth place was all-in-all a pleasing finish. It was tough work but interesting to see how I compared against Britain’s best in the distance. Given that I prepare and train for the 200 metres, I expected the 400 metres to be twice as long and twice as painful, and so it proved!
After just two days in the Steel City I headed out to compete at my third competition in just over ten days. This time my destination was the capital of Italy, the home of the Pope, the birthplace of pizza: Rome.
By now I was tired from training, exhausted from travelling and drained from racing. Yet I somehow managed to clock my fastest time over the three competitions. This gave me a lot of confidence ahead of the World Championships in Shanghai.
‘When in Rome’ I did as tourists do, thankfully managing to get a couple of evenings off to cram in some sightseeing. Swimming is such a lonely sport: day after day spent staring at the black line, added to the unsociable hours.
This makes it especially nice when you get a chance to see outside the swimming pools of places you visit. In Rome I managed to see Roman ruins including the Vatican City and Colosseum, while a few weeks earlier I’d been to see the famous Montjuic Fountains of Barcelona.
Our Loughborough training group has been doing a lot of ballet lately. This might sound strange but it really helps body position in the water. Ballet is all about how you move your body as 'one,' how you hold a firm body posture under pressure and how to breathe efficiently throughout: all things which us swimmers need.
We’ve been lucky to have an incredible Italian teacher who has done wonders with us, taking us from swimmers with two left feet, to swimmers with one right and one left leg. It’s a start! In Rome I thought it would be good to keep up the ballet in front of Rome's famous landmarks.
A final block of hard and high-intensity work faced me on my return from Rome, which is vital in the build-up to the World Championships. We leave for Japan as a team on Tuesday (July 12th) and spend around eight days preparing there before heading on to Shanghai in China.
In Japan we’ll acclimatise to the region and recover from the jet lag of travelling halfway around the world. It’s also important to come together as a group of people and continue the bond we have on the British Swimming team. All the fine-tuning will be undertaken in Japan, resting up and mentally preparing for the most important competition of the year, the second most important swimming competition behind the Olympics.
British swimming is continuing its upward curve of success. As a team we will be doing anything we can to keep the momentum going at the World Championship and ultimately through to the Olympics next year in London. It’s an extremely exciting time to be an athlete right now and in particular to be a swimmer for Great Britain. I couldn’t be more proud.
Keep up to date with events in Japan and China by following me on Twitter @SwimmerRoss.
Ross is supported by TBS Enterprise Mobility and Composed Communication - view his blogspot here.