Ready to race

By Sam Drury - Follow on Twitter

Last Updated: 19/12/2013, 10:08 GMT

Siobhan O'Connor: Won 200IM gold at the British Gas International in Leeds this year
Siobhan O'Connor: Is set to compete at the European Short Course Championship in Denmark starting on Thursday

"It's definitely been a good year, a step in the right direction," said Siobhan-Marie O'Connor. The 18-year-old swimmer finished the 2012/13 season with the 200m Individual Medley World Championships final in Barcelona and has been pleased with how she has swam so far this season.

Commonwealth Games

A good meet in Denmark would give O'Connor the perfect platform going into 2014 where, like so many athletes, the Commonwealth Games is the primary focus. The medley swimmer acknowledges that it will be quite strange when Britain splits into the individual nations for Glasgow but if and when she gets there, concentration will be firmly on performing in the pool, no matter who she may be up against. "This year my main aim is the Commonwealths in the summer," she continued. "I'll hopefully make my first Commonwealth team, that's what we're all looking to do but before that we've other competitions like the Flanders meet and a couple of internationals just to get ready. "Then we have the trials. So we'll be pretty busy but when we get to Commonwealths I don't really know what to expect there but, if possible, we've got to be looking at medals really." O'Connor's preferred event is the 200IM but the nature of the medley means that she is more than adept at all strokes and it was actually the 100m breaststroke that she competed in at the Olympics in London. It means the Sports Scholar will have a number of opportunities to make the England team and potentially be able to compete at more than one event at the Games themselves. "One of the perks of being a medley swimmer is that you get to train all strokes so I can race all the strokes as well," O'Connor said. "I'm not just focusing on one discipline which is nice, so when I go to competitions I can enter a variety. I prefer events 200m and below but then the 200m freestyle is so different to the 200IM and you pace each event completely differently. "On the medley because it's all different strokes, you have to play to your strengths a bit. That's probably the most tactical race, whereas the freestyle is one where it's just holding your pace. It is hard but it is just about race practice, the more you do each event, the more you get used to how to swim it and the more that you race the girls who are best at it, the more you learn about how to swim, about how it's best swum." O'Connor also expressed her delight at being part of the Sky Academy Sports Scholarships programme, explaining that without it her morale-boosting trip to Asia most likely would not have happened. "It's been amazing so far because without the Scholarships I wouldn't have been able to go to the World Cups and the experience I had over there has helped me so much with my training and my confidence especially," she concluded. "Last year finished on a bittersweet ending really, I made the final (at the World Championships) but it didn't really go as well as I wanted it to so I lost a bit of confidence. But going to the World Cups has put me in a really good place and feel confident in what I'm doing again this year and I'm happy with how I'm swimming. "I've got the feeling back for the racing again, I was able to race some of the best girls in the world and you can't really do that, you have to go abroad and it was expensive but I was able to do it with the help of Sky - so it's great!"