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Fran Halsall

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Swimming's Great Highs and Heart-Wrenching Lows

Posted: 30/08/2013 00:00

A lot has been made recently of "one year on" from London 2012, people saying "this time last year it was super Saturday", "this time last year I won Olympic gold", "this time last year was the happiest day of my life".

For me however, this time last year, I was sat on my balcony in the Olympic village crying my eyes out with the realisation that my dreams had just come crashing down around me. That's the funny thing about sport, the greatest highs come hand in hand with heart-wrenching lows.

After a long break from swimming, kicking myself for opportunities missed, I got back into the pool. It was a time of real uncertainty for me: questioning myself, questioning my ability, still wondering what if? I needed reassurance and some guidance, but with my coach of five years leaving Britain to take up a job elsewhere, I didn't really have anyone to turn to.

When I finally got a new coach and some stability to my training, I took it upon myself to ask for some help dealing with last summer. I was scared of pushing myself to the limit every day, to come 4th and 5th.

In May I was introduced to Sarah Broadhead, who is part of Steve Peters highly regarded fold of psychologists. She asked me what I wanted from my swimming. After thinking about it for a while I decided I wanted to enjoy it and have fun. After all, what is the point doing something every day that you don't enjoy? This has been my mantra for this season. I haven't worked any harder than I did last year, I haven't wanted it any more, been more professional or made more sacrifices, but I can honestly say that I've had the most enjoyable season of training I've ever had.

Going into the World Championships was a funny time for me, I didn't have the confidence in knowing that I was an Olympic medallist. In some ways I was kind of in the mind-set: once bitten twice shy. That's when working with Sarah came into its own. I was there to do my best with the knowledge that I'd had a great season of training.

I won a medal. It was relief that first overwhelmed me, then happiness at seeing my parents and how proud they were that I'd managed to turn myself around.

It wasn't a gold medal, but on the medal podium, I felt like a winner. I now know I can perform on the biggest stage in swimming. I'm not an 18year super talent or a 6'3" powerhouse, but this summer has given me confidence that that doesn't matter. I'm me and I'm achieving my goals and enjoying my journey.

 

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