Aimee Willmott Blog: Three weeks to go to the Commonwealths

Aimee Willmott Blog: Three weeks to go to the Commonwealths

Aimee Willmott Blog: Three weeks to go to the Commonwealths

First published in Sport

THIS week Wimbledon has filled the empty spaces in the TV guide where the World Cup filled the week before, and the sporting atmosphere in Britain could still be booming with the fast approaching Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Obviously England didn't perform as we'd all like them to, and I was as gutted as anyone else that we didn't make it through the group stages. But while it lasted all I saw were England flags in people's windows, non-stop talk of how the 'lads were going to do it' and the country really got behind them.

However, since the disappointing exit of England, many flags have been taken down, and there is talk of how the summer of sport has been ruined, but I couldn't disagree more.

This summer, I have qualified to swim for England at the Commonwealth Games and I am extremely proud to say I can represent my country for the second time.

It's a great honour to represent my country and something I find difficult to put into words. Over the coming weeks, I will try and give an insight into life as a competing swimmer so that you may become as excited as I when the Games begin.

The Northern Echo: AIMING HIGH: Aimee Willmott on the way to a silver medal in the 400m medley

Many people presume that life as a sports person is glamorous and pays well, but I can assure you that I don't take part in swimming for the money, because there isn't any!

Yes, we compete in a variety of nice places around the world, but I swim for the pride and honour that comes with competing, knowing what all the hours in training are for, and to feel that sense of achievement.

Footballers and tennis stars can make millions for winning tournaments. For instance, if Andy Murray adds another Grand Slam title to his tally this week (which I’m hoping he will), he'll also win a whopping £1.7m in prize money alone, which you would never see in the swimming world.

I keep thinking to myself, 'Why on earth at Wimbledon do the commentators keep bringing up the amount of prize money each player will receive if they're knocked out'? For me, it seems ridiculous to talk about, as that wouldn't even cross my mind when racing.

That's the main difference with amateur sports such as swimming and so called professional sports. I'm not saying that every tennis player, or every footballer is in it for the money, but you don't hear talk of how much money a swimmer will be fined for a disqualification, or how much money you get for missing out in a final position, because you get no monetary reward either way.

As an amateur swimmer, I receive centrally funded income from UK Sport, which is used to pay for living and training costs, alongside the kind donations and support from local Teesside businesses, without which I couldn't afford to swim.

People may think it's a cheap sport but a racing suit alone can cost anything up to £400! That said, I don't begrudge any of this because this is the sport I love to do.

 

The Northern Echo: The North East's Aimee Willmott was in action in the pool and Paul Drinkhall in table tennis

Over the next few weeks, my training in the pool and gym will have a slightly different focus. I will ease away from volume and distance, and change to a more race specific programme, where I prepare to swim fast in Glasgow.

I will be racing in four events, over the six days of competition, so it's important that I keep up the hard work for another week or so before I rest up to maintain my fitness.

A typical training week for me includes ten two-hour swimming sessions, and three gym sessions alongside pilates and general pre-pool workouts, so all in all, I’m pretty busy with training all of the time.

This week is the final week of hard work so it’s important that I eat right, sleep as often as I can to make sure I’m fully rested, and more importantly don’t do anything silly where I can cause injury up until the Games…so bowling is definitely off the cards!

As the build up continues, it would be nice to drive around and know that people have put the flags up to cheer on everyone from Team England this summer, not just for the football.

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