Rio

One Week To Go by Ellie Cole

Rio is now getting a bit too close for comfort.

The Australian Paralympic Swim Team have now been training in the United States for the last ten days. As an athlete, ten days in a hotel can make you a little stir-crazy. Having to cope with jetlag, pre-competition nerves and the extra amount of energy from taper can be difficult at the best of times. You would expect tension, short fuses and irrationality. You don’t see or feel these reactions when you are training in such a committed and uplifting team. We are all working towards a common goal – to perfect the things that can’t be perfected. We collectively want to make Australia proud of its National Swim Team.

We all know that the Olympic Games is the predecessor to the Paralympic Games. Its surreal to watch the Olympics beforehand, knowing that we will be walking into the very same stadium in just six weeks time.

Like all other Paralympians, I found myself wondering what the next few weeks of training would bring.  Would we be ready in time? There is never enough time to prepare – time is the enemy. There are just too many things to make perfect. Still, we all seem to chase it down anyway.

Results, results, results. That’s what it all comes down to.

Over our swimming career we are taught to focus on the process rather than the results that we are ultimately chasing. We hear the word ‘process’ so often that sometimes we mumble it in our sleep. This tactic has been designed to keep us grounded before we perform. If we start thinking about the results too much we can find ourselves consumed by fear and the sensation of being overwhelmed. We can start letting doubtful thoughts creep into our minds that serve no purpose but to let the game get the better of us.

There is a catch though -we aren’t human if we don’t think about winning. We can’t afford to be thinking about this behind the blocks. Instead, we have to practice the ability to completely trust our body to deliver the performance. We spend all that time being coached, coached, coached. But behind the blocks we have to let go of that and trust that we will act on instinct.

When it comes down to it, the thing that really matters to an athlete is:

Did I give it everything?

This doesn’t just apply to race day, but in every little decision that you have made before that moment.

This generally puts athletes into two different camps when they walk away from their Games experience.

1.     I did everything that I could.

2.     I messed up. I wasted my shot.

Im walking away from Rio in the first camp.

 

 

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