Did you think going into the Olympics that you could win a medal?
Going into the Games I believed I had a real chance, it’s what you train your entire life for, so if you didn’t think you could win something you wouldn’t be training on Christmas Day and every other day of the year.
The real test is when you’re trying to get to sleep at night and the demons come in. You start to wonder; can I really beat all of these guys??
I’m a very positive person but that was always tough.
The first time I truly believed I could win a medal was when I qualified fastest for the final. Truth be told I thought I was going to win the gold!
What was it like to actually win a medal?
Everyone thinks it’d be euphoria, but it wasn’t, it was a relief!
The pressure you put on yourself is huge so to achieve what you have worked for is fantastic.
There was even more pressure in 2004 as GB hadn’t picked up any medals that year and the press was getting on our backs. So, to win a medal was fantastic.
Over time that relief turns to pride, and you gain more perspective and you start to realise that very few people are part of this club.
Where do you keep your medal, on the wall, in your office?
Actually, I just keep it in my sock drawer. Very rock and roll, I know!
How did you celebrate after winning your medal?
I actually went to the McDonald’s in the Olympic Village and managed to consume 7 and a half cheeseburgers!
I also persuaded people to have a bit of a beach party but when I was trying to get people in the sea, I stood on a sea urchin.
In the next few days, I missed a mandatory training session and instead went to watch GB win a gold with my friend Adrian Turner.
How important do you think getting children involved in swimming is and why?
400 people drowned last year which should be motivation enough. It’s on the National Curriculum and provides children with a life skill. There also is no better sport for children to do in terms of overall fitness.
Why did you decide to set up your own learn-to-swim school?
I’ve only ever wanted to do something I’m passionate about and that will get me out of bed in the morning. When your product is giving kids the best 30mins of their week and putting smiles on their faces it was an easy choice. Not to mention the children get a life saving skill!
Do you think the earlier children learn to swim, the better?
Absolutely. Like all things in life, being good at something requires confidence and if you start early, you’ll never be scared of the water. I got my kids into lessons as soon as possible and am thankful at 5 and 3 they are now very confident in the water.
What makes you prouder, teaching children to swim or your Olympic medal?
No contest – teaching kids to swim!
Knowing that we help 30,000 children a week participate in swimming makes me way prouder than my Olympic medal.
I still believe that being an athlete and a business owner is not hugely different. You need passion, drive, persistence and belief to come in every day to run your business the best you can.
I am working with a fantastic team of people on a daily basis is inspiring!