Interview: Team England swimmer Siobhan-Marie O'Connor

Sports Mole caught up with teenage English medal hopeful Siobhan-Marie O'Connor ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Plenty is expected of the English swimmers at the upcoming Commonwealth Games after a second-place finish at the last Games in Delhi, and there's an awful lot of pressure on one of the team's youngest members.

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor is just 18 but has already been to the Olympics and is now looking to build on her London experience to propel her to a medal in the next couple of weeks.

Sports Mole caught up with the Bath born-and-trained swimmer at Team England's camp at the London Olympic Park to talk London, Glasgow and more.

Swimmer Siobhan-Marie O'Connor of Great Britain looks on during a training session ahead of the London Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park on July 26, 2012© Getty Images

You were the youngest GB swimmer at London 2012. Two years on, what you have learned?

"London was an incredible experience but I never really expected to qualify for that. It wasn't until the year of the Olympics that I realised that I might be in with a chance of making it and it didn't really happen how I wanted it to happen. I didn't qualify in my main event (the 200m individual medley) that I thought I had the best chance in.

"At the first trials the occasion got the better of me and then the second trials I went there with a small chance [in the 100m breaststroke. I wanted to make the team so bad as it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Some people say I was too young, but I just wanted to make it. So when I got to the Olympics it was just incredible to be there and it gave me a massive learning experience to be able to swim there.

"Since then my swimming has definitely progressed, at 16 you're not at your physical best and now I'm 18 I'm getting a bit closer to where a girl tends to peak I suppose. So that extra two years of strength, more training and different things I've learned have put me in a better place for this year."

Although you had an amazing experience in London, British swimming on the whole was on a bit of a downer. Was it hard for the team after the Games?

"Yeah that was really tough actually. For me I was just so happy to be there and to make the team and there was no expectation on me. Making it to the 4x100m relay final was just a dream come true in itself. So for me I took loads of positivity away and also as I'm from Bath we had a good games as Michael Jamieson got a silver medal so we were really happy.

"To have the downer and all the unfortunate stuff we had to go through, like the funding cuts, was bad, but that's sport and sport is all about performance. If you don't get your performance right then you have to look at why you didn't and put it right. Although it was hard at the time, we're putting things right so it won't happen again."

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor of Great Britain competes during the Swimming Women's 200m Individual Medley Final on day ten of the 15th FINA World Championships in Barcelona on July 29, 2013© Getty Images

The crowd in London was brilliant. Are you hoping for a similarly good support up in Glasgow, even though the British nations are competing separately?

"Yep, absolutely. It's not that far away from home for me and I've got a really good support system with my mum, dad, brother, nan, grandma and grandad all going up, which is really cool as I've never had that much support going to watch me before. I can't really say what it's going to be like, but I imagine it'll be a good level of support for all the British countries there.

"I think it will be cool to see what the rivalries are like as well [among the home nations]. It's good to have a bit of banter, even if we're competing against each other. At the end of the day, we like to have the individuality with England and like to feel proudly English, but it's good to see our other British teammates doing well."

How will you be able to use your memories of the Olympics to help you in Glasgow?

"With an Olympics, it's completely different to anything else you'll ever do and I loved being part of a Games environment. When you go to the Europeans or Worlds it's still great, but enjoying the experience with other sports and living in a village is really cool.

"Living in a village and eating in a food hall - it's stuff that is useful to have experienced before. When you're doing it for the first time, it can be quite overwhelming. Having done it before, and on a bigger scale, will definitely help me not get thrown by what's going on."

Siobhan-Marie O'Connor in action during the Women's 200m Freestyle Final on day one of the British Gas Swimming Championships 2014 in Glasgow on April 10, 2014© Getty Images

You were diagnosed with ulcerative colitis soon after the Olympics. Are you completely on top of that now?

"My illness was at its worst the year of the Olympics and, looking back, I don't really know how I ever qualified. I don't know how I swam each day and it was also my final GCSE year. It was a crazy year. I honestly don't know how I did it because I feel so much healthier now.

"Right now, touch wood, I feel really healthy. Last year was a bit of a struggle, dealing with all the different medications that I had to come on. This year, most days I don't even think about it."

Siobhan's main medal hopes will be in the 200m individual medley, which takes place on Sunday, July 27. Follow her progress throughout the Games on SM.

Rebecca Adlington poses for a picture during the launch of the British Gas SwimBritain event at the London Aquatic Centre on April 9, 2014
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