Aimee Willmott Commonwealth Games blog: One week to go...

GETTING READY: Teesside swimmer Aimee Willmott writes an exclusive column for The Northern Echo ahead of her appearance at the Commonwealth Games next week

GETTING READY: Teesside swimmer Aimee Willmott writes an exclusive column for The Northern Echo ahead of her appearance at the Commonwealth Games next week

First published in Sport

ON SUNDAY, Team England’s swimming team arrived in London for what we call 'holding camp'. During this time, we are training at the magnificent Olympic Pool used during the 2012 London Games and the feeling I get from training here is amazing.

For those of you that don’t know, I will be starting a new journey in September and moving to London to train full time under the new London Aquatic Centre training programme (based at the Olympic Pool), so no doubt I'll get this same exciting feeling day in, day out.

Being with the team over the last few days was when I realised I’m not the only one who is excited to get to Glasgow. The Commonwealth Games team this year is made up of senior experienced swimmers, junior swimmers who’ve never made a team before (which was myself four years ago) and then there are those that don’t quite fit into either category – me! Yes I’ve been to World Championships, an Olympic Games, and European Championships, but I’ve never come away with a long course medal.

This week it hit me that all the hard work in training for the season has already been done. Taper is well underway and training now involves resting up and tweaking technical points in my stroke here and there. The focus completely revolves around making sure I’m ready to race next week.

For those of you who don’t what a ‘taper’ is, it’s basically the lightening of a work load. For approximately two weeks before a major competition, training gradually eases and the amount of metres and intensity in training drops.

The idea of this is so that come race day, you’re as rested as can be to race as fast as possible. This also means making sure you get as much rest as possible, so lots of sleep becomes part of the process, which is not as easy as you might think.

Media days are always scheduled into a holding camp too and this is something I have enjoyed much more this year. All of the sponsors involved with the team gather together, take lots of pictures of us in training, and then normally like to interview each swimmer. As a young athlete, this can be a daunting experience but over time, it becomes an important part of our lives.

Sponsors of all kinds play a huge part in helping teams and individuals be the best they can be and I have been humbled to have been supported by some local Teesside businesses too. They have really helped with my final preparations for Glasgow, offering guidance and constant best wishes and for having 100 per cent belief in me.

Although I’ll be moving to London in September, Middlesbrough will always be my home and Middlesbrough Swimming Club will always have a place in my heart - that’s where my journey in swimming began.

The next time you will hear from me, it will be on the day of the Opening Ceremony of the Games (Wednesday, July 23) and the day before my first race, the 400m Individual Medley on Thursday. I will hopefully be able to give you an insight into what life is like at the Athletes' Village, which I cannot wait to see.

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