Sky Academy Sports Scholarships: Siobhan-Marie O'Connor blogs on National Camp

Last Updated: 29/05/2014, 11:33 GMT

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor
Siobhan-Marie O'Connor: Was inspired by talks from past Olympic medallists

Last week I attended the British National Camp which took place from Sunday 11 to Saturday 17 May in Loughborough.

The University of Loughborough has incredible facilities which are home to one of the two National Centres for swimming in Britain, and it was great to use them throughout the week.

There were 40 swimmers on the team and we were split into five different training groups. I was training with six other members from my home squad, Bath National Centre, and we were coached by our home coach, David McNulty. This was great because it meant we could stick to our normal training plan for that week and complete another good block of training.

During the week we had some great team meetings and guest speakers. The team meetings were conducted by different members of staff and all about really important parts of our sport. Some were about race preparation and warm ups, race models and tactics which were really helpful, whereas some were about performance nutrition and anti-doping.

Each meeting that we had was beneficial to us in some way and it was great to hear interesting ideas and advice from other swimmers and staff that we might not have heard before.

We had three great guest speakers throughout the week. The first was Bill Beswick who is a very successful British psychologist and has worked with huge teams such as Manchester United and England Rugby.


He was very motivational and gave us some great key messages to take away and think about and work on in our everyday lives as well as on race-day and during competition. Our second guest speaker was Amy Williams. Her story was incredibly inspiring too.

She was very driven and did everything she possibly could to ensure she had the best preparation possible before her Olympic Games in 2010. She didn't leave any stone unturned if she thought it could potentially give her an advantage, so she knew she had the edge over her opponents. It was great to hear her story of success and her message came across really well.

Our final guest speaker was Rebecca Adlington. It was great to have Becky come in and speak to us alongside her coach, and our British Swimming Head Coach, Bill Furniss, as they had a great relationship and she is the most successful British swimmer we have ever had.

Although quite a few of the people in the room have been on teams with her in the past, everyone looks up to her and is hugely inspired by what she has done, so to hear any advice and any tips that she had for us with how to deal with things in competition was great.

It was a great but challenging week. The coaches wanted to push us out of our comfort zones and in one of the sessions they surprised us by making us do a cold (not warmed up in the pool) race.

We turned up to the pool not knowing what was going to happen and were told that we weren't allowed to warm up properly and had to race 100m and be within less than five per cent off of our PB time. This was a shock for us all, but it was to see how we handled and dealt with the adversity which can arise at any point in sport. I actually swam a PB time in my heat so was pretty happy.

Overall it was a really good week in which I feel I made a lot of progress in training and through what I learnt and experienced. It will no doubt only help with my preparations for the summer.