Ryan Crouch is an S9 swimmer with Cerebral Palsy, and at the age of 22 years-old, he is on his way to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. We caught up with Ryan in the lead up to the games...
On the 23rd April 2016 my dreams finally came true. After 11 years of tough training, health setbacks, and no major breakthrough, I found myself punching the air at the end of the lane after achieving the Rio 2016 Paralympic Qualifying Standard on the S9 50m Freestyle. Two days later, I was lucky enough to receive a letter from Chris Furber (NPD) to congratulate me on being selected for this years Paralympics!
Due to health setbacks in December 2014, I had quit the sport for a few months. When I returned to the sport I adore, I decided to coach myself and see where it would lead. My occupation of being a swim coach aided my progress. It was not easy, but I had fun challenging myself!
Since first finding the qualifying standard I would need to achieve at Para Swimming Trials in Glasgow (April 2016), I knew it was going to be a race against time! My personal best time in November 2015 for my 50m Freestyle was 27.50s. The qualification standard for Rio was 26.49s. A significant difference over just 1 length of an Olympic-sized pool. However, I always believed, and never lost hope. In the heats of 50m Freestyle, I swam a time of 26.37s, briefly taking the British Record and achieving the Paralympic goal.
Since selection, I have always had the thought of just being able to turn up and compete in Rio. However, that is not how I work! I have been working very hard, taking gambles in the pool and gym, creating the 100% package to ensure that I do not just make up the numbers in Rio! I want to perform to the best of my ability for myself, my family, ParalympicsGB, and to inspire the children that I coach in swimming.
Going into the Rio Paralympic Games, I am feeling pure excitement and no nerves as yet! Although I'm aware that it's natural for self-anticipation and nerves to grow the nearer I get to race day!
The overall feeling heading into the games is determination to improve on the big stage. Of course I am so proud to be representing ParalympicsGB, but whilst I can still have an impact on results in Rio, I am striving to move forward.
Ryan will compete in the S9 100m Freestyle on the 12th September, and the 50m Freestyle on the 13th. Want to show your support? You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter!