Freya Anderson brimming with confidence on road to Tokyo 2020

Freya Anderson had won six international medals, competed at a World Championships and was a multiple national champion – all before her 18th birthday.

One of British swimming’s most talented youngsters has firmly cemented her status on the international stage since then, demonstrating her rapid growth at the FINA World Championships in July.

Anderson set personal bests in both the 100m and 200m Freestyle, reaching her first ever individual world final over the shorter distance.

Her maturity was also on full show as she anchored the British 4x100m Mixed Relay team to a bronze medal.

Now, the Ellesmere College swimmer is working towards her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, buoyed by a wealth of experience on the international stage.

Anderson said: “Training is pretty tough at the moment, but it’s great having a goal to work towards. If you’re struggling in a set, you tell yourself ‘Come on, Freya – the Olympics are less than 300 days away, just keep working!’

“I’m feeling a real mixture of nerves and excitement, but I’ve got a fair bit of experience now so I should be in top condition and ready to perform when we get to Tokyo.”

A nervy start

Despite making her mark at such a young age, Anderson hadn’t always known she was destined for success.

Reflecting on the early stages of her career, she said: “When I first went to a proper swimming lesson, I hated it! I felt like I had been put in a group that was too high for my ability and I was always at the back of the lane.

“So, I’m not sure how I’ve ended up here to be honest – I must have started liking it at some point!

“Since then I’ve had a good relationship with every teacher and coach I’ve had, which made me feel more comfortable. Then you gain confidence and enjoy it more, which is a great cycle to get into.”

Giving back

Anderson is already helping to inspire the next generation of British swimmers, but her message isn’t about winning.

The 18-year-old is promoting the importance of children simply being safe around water.

She added: “The main reason I started swimming lessons was to be safe in the water. The swimming teachers don’t know where their swimmers are going to end up.

“No one knew back then that I would be preparing for an Olympic Games one day. They just put all that time and effort into every swimmer to ensure they were safe and enjoying their time in the pool. It’s amazing the impact they have.

“I do swim clinics now where I help my coach with sessions, and I really enjoy teaching the young kids and seeing them improve. That’s really satisfying – to ensure they have that confidence and enjoyment in the water.”

Anderson will step out of her comfort zone when she presents as a guest speaker at the Swim England Teaching and Education Awards in November.

The event in Solihull will celebrate the swimming workforce, with tutors, schools and teachers among those to be recognised.

“I’m sure I’ll get a little nervous before speaking but three years ago I would have completely refused to do it!

“I’ve become a lot more confident since then and really enjoy telling my story and hopefully inspiring others now.”

Tickets for the Swim England Teaching and Education Awards and Conference are still available. Click here to book.