We have a wonderful guest blog today from the newly awarded British Universities and Colleges Sports Personality of the Year! Ahead of the World Swimming Championships which start tomorrow, Michael Jamieson reflects on his preparations leading up to the event...
Where to start – there’s a lot to catch up on! I’m in Mallorca on a two-week training camp, putting the final preparations in place before the World Championships in Barcelona in around two weeks’ time.
I have finally finished my degree course at the University of Bath; I got there with eight hours sleep over five days in my final week before dissertation deadline, not recommended! This was the first period throughout my degree where I failed to balance training commitments with University and I almost paid a hefty price. My final month of University was void of sleep and my usual intricate nutrition plan and instead replaced with all – night library sessions, the odd takeaway and a period of substandard training which led to an untimely injury.
I managed to acquire a small tear in my bicep tendon during a gym session about five weeks before the trials. It was a worrying time as I was aware that I needed a strong block of training to make up for the period of late nights finishing my degree. An injury to a tendon is very different to a muscular injury. Tendons heal much more gradually and require rest, putting me in a difficult position with World Championship trials looming.
The support staff networks in Bath are a great team of individuals that guided me through the injury on a daily basis and I have them to thank for being named on the team. Just five days before my 200m Breaststroke, and my best shot at qualification, I asked my coach to pull the plug on my season and forget about racing for medals in Barcelona. I hadn’t been able to train at a high level and I was beginning to lose strength and muscle mass due to my heavily restricted gym programme to protect my shoulder. Thinking about the consequences of not competing – an opportunity of a major medal missed and loss of my UK Sport Lottery funding being the primary concerns, were causing a lot of stress.
My coach of almost four years, David McNulty, knows me well and knew what to say to change my mind-set and begin to get me fired up and ready to fight for my place on the team.
At the trials, I was still feeling low – something I’ve never experienced. Usually competition is the most enjoyable part of being an athlete. The possibility of remaining British number one seemed very slim and qualification seemed just as far off. Dealing with pressures and self – doubt are nothing new in athletic life but after the London Olympic Games last summer, there is a sense of expectancy and pressure on my results. Until now, this has never fazed me.
I managed to put these thoughts at bay and was ready to race aggressively for the number one spot and for qualification. I couldn’t quite believe the time after my race – 1st in 2.07.77, just a finger away from the time I set in the final of the Olympic Games. It is the fastest time in the world this year so far and I’m going into the World Championships seeded number one. What a turn of events.
I have taken huge positives from this. I wasn’t fully fit and managed to swim my second fastest time. My coach said to me before the race, “the great athletes always find a way to come through” and I wanted to prove that last year was not a fluke.
I’m more determined than ever to deliver a medal in Barcelona after a turbulent season and I’m now full of belief. Sometimes as an athlete, your mind tries to play tricks on you, but I think I have now learned how to win these battles.
As always, thank you all for your continued support and I will do my very best to deliver in Barcelona!
Thanks for a great blog Michael :) I see from the schedule that you'll be swimming almost to the dates of your great swims at the Olympics last year. Once again, everyone at Smiths News is ready to cheer you on for that gold medal!
NB Michael's due to swim in the 100m breaststroke on July 28th and the 200m on August 2nd. Daily TV coverage of the championships is on Eurosport from 9am. I'll update you if there's any news of live streaming from the championships.