After being confirmed as the first of our Sky Academy Sports Scholars who will be competing at the Commonwealth Games this summer, Siobhan-Marie O'Connor will blog weekly on her preparations in the lead up to Glasgow.
In the first of a series of blogs, O'Connor relives the British Championships and how she qualified for the Games in Scotland in July...
I have just had a lovely week off from training which we were rewarded with the week after the Commonwealth Games Trials in Glasgow. We only get one week off a year during the season so it is something that we all look forward to and I now feel really recovered, refreshed and ready to continue.
I was really pleased with the way things went at the British Championships, which doubled up as our main trials for this year’s Commonwealth Games, which are to be held in Glasgow. Everything fell into place and went well with my preparations so I was confident in the lead up to the competition, but anything can happen on the day so I was still pretty nervous.
My first swim of the competition was the 200m freestyle; this is an event that I have made big improvements on this year but one that I never really focused on until now. I was really pleased with my heat swim as it was on the first morning and one of the first events, so I surprised myself by swimming a PB time.
This was a great confidence boost as I then knew that I was fit and swimming well and could just carry on and enjoy the meet. In the final I swam another PB time and won the event. I was really happy with the result as my time was under the Commonwealth Games qualifying time which I thought was going to be out of my reach as I was in a final with some really fast and more experienced girls.
There was also an added bonus because my team-mate Amelia Maughan finished as the fourth English swimmer and collectively we swam under the relay qualification time which meant she also secured her place on the team.
My next event was the 100m fly in which I set a PB time in the semi-final and came second in the final. I was happy with my swim in the semi but slightly frustrated not to have gone faster in the final as I thought I had a little bit more in the tank.
My third and final swim was the 200m medley which is my favourite event. It was weird having to wait until the end of the competition to swim it as it is normally within the first few days, but I was excited for it by the time it came around. I swam a comfortable heat swim which gave me confidence for the final as I knew I could pick it up in the evening.
The final was very strong with five girls all around similar PB times so I was quite nervous. I was out very quick for the first 100m which is something I still need to work on because I struggled on the last 25m but I swam a new PB time of 2.09.71 and won the event. I was really happy as I had wanted to dip under the 2.10 mark for a while and this was also under the Commonwealth Games qualifying time, and put me second in the world rankings for 2014.
I had a great week as a whole and was able to really fine-tune my race preparations, which will be really helpful in the summer. My team (Bath National Training Centre) were really successful as a squad, with nine others also making the team.
There is now a ten-week block of training before the Commonwealth Games in the summer. In June I will be competing in the Monaco and Barcelona rounds of the Mare Nostrum series of meets and also attending a training camp in Mallorca, which I am able to do with the help of Sky Academy Sports Scholarships. This warm weather training will undoubtedly help my preparations, and I'm already looking forward to putting in the hard work in the hope of having a successful summer.