The Countdown / by Ellie Cole

Its hard to believe its almost here. We are nearing just 40 days until the Opening Ceremony for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 

For those of you that follow the Olympic and Paralympic swimmers on Instagram, we all seem to be about countdowns. Every morning we wake up before the sun does and we turn off our alarm. We either feel one of two things in that moment: fear or excitement. Fear that the Games have become one day closer than they were before we went to sleep. We can also feel excitement for the same reason. Sometimes its both. Sometimes we just want to go back to sleep. Im sure you know what that feels like. 

Either way, regardless of what we are feeling its time to get out of bed. It doesn't matter how cold it is outside or how much our bodies are hurting, the show must go on. 

The drive to the pool is always an interesting one. It takes me 20 minutes to drive to training. As the Games are approaching us in a speed that doesn't seem realistic, I usually think about Rio. What will happen? What will I be feeling when I stand up on the blocks? The nerves usually hit me then and I have to remember to keep breathing. I am driving a car after all. Not the most ideal time to pass out. 

But you always wonder how you will walk away from a Paralympic Games. Will you be happy with your performances? Will you be disappointed and always carry around this deep regret? Either way, you can walk away knowing that you were amongst the best in the world at something. Thats pretty cool. 

I always try walk into training with a big smile on my face. My enthusiasm usually annoys some of the swimmers (usually the ones that are napping in the pathway) but it puts me in a good mood. Sometimes that smile that I walk in with can quickly turn to horror as I read the session on the white board. My coach, Nathan Doyle, always tells me 'You'll be right. This will be good for you' when he sees this look on my face. As much as I hate to agree, he's usually right. 

Training over the years has taught me one thing: there is no point holding back. It is a waste of time to hold yourself back if you woke up at 4am and dove into a cold pool. That was already hard enough, you might as well make the most of it while you're in there.  

This morning was a pretty difficult set. We swam over three kilometres of pull at different paces for our main set. After the pull set, Coach Doyle told us to put our paddles on for a sprint set. 

I was thinking: 'He's joking, right? How am I meant to sprint when I can't even feel my arms?!'. 

I voiced this to Coach Doyle, who of course, was not joking. Not even in the slightest bit. He told me 'You'll be right. This will be good for you'. He was right, of course. 

Anyway, I better go and eat some food. Its time to replenish those arms for another training session tonight.

If you have any questions or want to share any photos, you are more than welcome to hit me up on Instagram : @elliecoleswim