We caught up with athlete Susie Rodgers in the lead up to Paralympic Swimming Trials, taking place in Glasgow from 23rd - 27th April 2016. Susie is a World and European Champion, and also competed in the 2012 Paralympics, where she won an incredible three bronze medals in the 100m freestyle, 4 x 100m freestyle relay and 400m freestyle. During her swimming career, Susie has won an extraordinary 16 gold medals, along with 8 silver and 7 bronze. Here's what Susie had to say in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Trials.
What does a typical day consist of for you right now?
Most of my time is taken up with swimming sessions (one to two times per day for up to 2 hours), and gym sessions, lots of stretching and strength work in between, plenty of good foods (preparing it takes a fair amount of time!) and resting. I travel in the car to the pool and in traffic it can take up to an hour! I have early starts as well – between 4:30 to 5:30 in the morning.
How has your diet changed with the extra training?
I have to eat well and eat plenty but I definitely have to watch what I eat. During the main parts of the season I eat a fair amount of carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle building but also plenty of fruits and vegetables. I have developed my cooking skills and follow blogs on Instagram too. You can get so many ideas online!
What’s the hardest thing about training for the Paralympics?
The sacrifices and the fact that very few people understand what you are really going through. You have to live a fairly controlled lifestyle, nothing to excess and you have to look after yourself so that you can train well without getting injured and/or ill. It is an isolated lifestyle and I have definitely lost friends along the way because I am often away competing or training. But the most important people in my life – my family and very close friends – always stay with me on my journey and they are vital in keeping me grounded during those more stressful times.
What’s the best thing about your training regime?
The opportunities to travel and see different places and cultures. I also love the training and pushing myself and feeling fit and healthy. The friends I have made in swimming have been great too. The team of swimmers are like a little family!
We’ve heard that the 400m freestyle is your favourite event, what is it about this event that makes it top of your list?
I like all my events really but the 400 is just a real challenge. When it goes well, it feels like a huge achievement! I do enjoy the sprints too though! You get less time to think in a sprint so everything has to be spot on!
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you during your swimming career?
Years ago, I swam a 200m medley event in a 25m pool for a Masters race. I started out with the butterfly, got to 25m and turned onto my back without thinking! I should have done two lengths of butterfly, not one! I realised what I had done and looked up at the judge. I swam to the end and knew I have been disqualified so I just said 'shall I get out?!' It was funny afterwards but I felt like such a fool at the time! My coach was not best pleased!
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to young aspiring athletes, what would it be?
Just to give yourself achievable goals. I have often been caught up in impossible goals before and it has meant disappointment, so the best thing to do is to focus on things that you know are challenging but also achievable that you can do. It is about knowing yourself and being sensible, but also not being afraid to push yourself too. Also to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. It really is important to celebrate something you did well!
Susie will be kitted out in her Zoggs swimwear as she competes in the trials in Glasgow. You can join us in showing Susie your support by following her on Twitter and Instagram. Or, you can find out more about Susie and her swimming achievements on her website.