Earlier this month I traveled to Glasgow, Scotland to compete with Team USA at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships. It’s always an honor to represent my country on the international stage and I was really excited to have the opportunity to step up onto the blocks at my fourth World Championships.
I’ve been through a lot of change this year – moving to Chicago, starting to coach myself, shifting my training philosophy – and Glasgow was my opportunity to see how everything would come together at a high-pressure competition. We traveled over to the UK a few days before the meet began, and I had the luxury of not swimming until a week after we arrived. This gave me the chance to get acclimated to the time change & the meet schedule, check out the venue, and swim in the competition pool before I raced on Day 3.
I hadn’t been feeling my usual pre-competition “pop” coming out of my taper, but figured once I shook off the travel, things would fall into place. My first race was the 100m backstroke. I won silver in this event in London and have swum some pretty fast times heading into Worlds, so I felt good about my chances of getting on the podium. I swim in one of the most competitive classes in Paralympics and knew I would have to swim really well to win a medal. I got out fast in the first 50 and nearly ran out of pool in the home stretch, just out-touching one of my top rivals from Ukraine to win bronze. Winning a medal and being able to stand on the podium, representing my country, is always a thrill. And, I stood there knowing I am capable of swimming even faster.
After the 100m back, I had a day off before I would swim the 50m freestyle on Day 5. On my off day I had the chance to be the guest commentator for the IPC’s live stream of the event. It was a ton of fun to see the events from a different point of view and add some athlete perspective for the folks watching the coverage from all around the world. Once my broadcast debut ended, it was time to get ready for the 50m free.
The 50 is just a pure sufferfest, and it’s a huge mental game with no room for error.While in the ready room, I had an equipment issue that made for a very frantic few minutes as I was about to head out for my race. My heart rate was up and I wasn’t in the zone like I usually am before a race like that. But, as soon as I stepped up on the blocks, I had to put it all behind me. I had the fastest reaction time of anyone in the race but I just couldn’t hold on as we all sprinted down the pool. Less than a second separated the top six guys and I ended up tied for sixth. It definitely wasn’t the result I had planned for, nor was it the result that I knew I was capable of producing.
It’s always great to come home from a major international competition with a medal, so I’m very happy to have brought home some hardware from this World Championships. Now, it’s time to re-focus the training and put a strategy in place to get me to the top of the podium in Rio and bring home gold!