MX23RW : Friday, September 21 08:23:33

Interview: Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds

Sports Mole chats with four-time Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds after she claims a place in the GB squad for the IPC Swimming World Championships.

You could forgive the most recognised Paralympian in Great Britain for wanting to shun the limelight and ease the pressure off their shoulders, but that mindset doesn't belong to swimmer Ellie Simmonds.

At the age of 20, the Walsall athlete, who was born with achondroplasia dwarfism, has four Paralympic gold medals, 13 World Championship titles and seven European golds.

"The feeling of winning and being with the team [keeps me motivated]," Simmonds told Sports Mole. "I love being on the top of the podium - I want to relive that feeling. Being around the GB team is so exciting."

Promotional shot of British Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds© Getty Images

In July, Simmonds will head an 18-strong Great Britain squad for the IPC World Championships in Glasgow, in the same Tollcross pool where the home nations impressed during last summer's Commonwealth Games.

The Paralympian hopes to compete in five events overall - three freestyle races, the 100m breaststroke and the 200m individual medley in the SM6 category, which she comfortably qualified for during last weekend's trials in Scotland.

"My main aim leading into it was to qualify and I achieved those qualifications in the individual medley and also the 400m freestyle, so I'm happy with that," said Simmonds. "It went well, but there's still loads of things that I can improve on. My times weren't the best, but I can re-evaluate now this week and then just see how it goes.

"I need to talk to my coach. We have a week off, so I'm not going to think about what I need to improve on and then when I get back into training, I'll think about what I need to do. I'll watch the videos, all the analysis and see what I need to work on for Worlds in the summer."

Promotional shot of British Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds© Getty Images

Considering her previous success in the field, not to mention 10 world records to her name, it's no surprise that Simmonds will have heavy expectations upon her when she takes to the pool in four months' time, but the 20-year-old is fully aware of the threat her rivals pose.

"I quite thrive on [expectation], really," said Simmonds. "I like the pressure of people expecting me to get the gold. Some days it is quite tough - it's nice to be left alone and just be able to train, but then it has its advantages as well.

"I've got a Ukrainian (Yelyzaveta Mereshko) who I need to watch out for - she's a big rival in the freestyle event. I've got Australian, American, quite a few! They're all ones that I need to watch out for and you never know who else is going to be new on the team. It's going to be exciting and it's going to be good. I'm looking forward to it."

England's Elizabeth Simmonds during the 200m backstroke heats on July 27, 2014© Getty Images

A major advantage for Simmonds heading into the competition is the fact that she will be performing in front of a home crowd, and the memory of the London 2012 Paralympics, where she scooped two gold medals, a silver and a bronze, is spurring her on.

"What we had in London 2012 was incredible and that helped us as a home nation to achieve many things," reflected Simmonds. "I hope it's packed and they're fully supporting us [in Glasgow], with a home crowd cheering us on. That does help having the home support and having that home advantage carry us."

Is it too early to think about Rio 2016, though?

"I take each meet as it comes, really. Rio's next year and that's quite scary, but I take every year as it comes. This year, my focus is on Worlds in July, but then afterwards I'll see what the focus is on for Rio."

Promotional shot of British Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds© Getty Images

Simmonds may be the star attraction, but the British and Irish Para-swimming talent pool is thriving. During last week's international meet in Glasgow, Bethany Firth and Hannah Russell both set new 100m backstroke world records in the S14 and S12 categories respectively.

"It's incredible!" said Simmonds. "The athletes that we have, it's great for the future of Paralympic sport and yes, we had Bethany and Hannah getting world records, but we've still got the talent of Sascha Kindred and James O'Shea who have been on the team for years, so I think the GB Para-swimming team is very strong."

Despite recent figures from Sport England, which revealed earlier this year that participation in swimming has dropped by 8%, Simmonds is refusing to let the numbers detract from her view that interest in the sport and vital life skill is still growing.

"I was quite shocked about [the figures] because in my eyes I've seen the participation of swimming," admitted Simmonds. "There's so much public swimming - each lane has got an athlete or a member of the public swimming, so it's great. For me, I feel like it hasn't dropped and it's still one of the top sports in the country, which is really good."

The IPC World Championships will be held at Glasgow's Tollcross pool from July 13 to July 19.

Share this article now:
Eleanor Simmonds of Great Britain poses during day six of the IPC Swimming World Championship at Parc Jean Drapeau on August 17, 2013
Read Next:
Simmonds claims place in IPC Worlds squad
>

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Login, I already have my ad-free pass
Log in to customise Sports Mole
Buy ad-free access (show me the options)
Buy monthly ad-free access for £1.20/month
Buy yearly ad-free access for £12 (2 months free)
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
Settings - Logout - Manage your account