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Racing to Trials: Athlete Profiles

8 June 2019

Blair Evans
Blair Evans is gearing up for more racing! The dual Olympian will be vying for a spot on the World Champs team.

Blair Evans

Club:

UWA West Coast Swimming Club

Racing In:

200m Individual Medley

400m Individual Medley

Previous Achievements:

2018 Commonwealth Games, Bronze Medallist

2016 Olympic Games

2012 Olympic Games, Silver medallist

2011 World Championships (LC), Silver medallist

2010 Commonwealth Games, Gold medallist

2010 Pan Pacific Championships, Silver and Bronze medallist

2009 World Championships (LC)

Since making her international racing debut a decade ago at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, Blair has represented Australia twice at the Olympic Games, twice at the Commonwealth Games, the Pan Pacific Championships and two more World Championships. Blair was a member of the silver medal winning 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay team at the 2012 Olympics but was unfortunately struck down by injury in 2013 and 2014 which almost led her to hang up her Funkitas for good. After being given slim odds of returning to competitive swimming at the highest level, she lost all funding and was forced to change coaches. But Blair's competitive spirit and strong work ethic drove her to secure a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. While many athletes struggle to stay motivated to train at the highest level after such a long career, Blair remained focused, trained hard and was rewarded when she won her first individual international medal last year in the 400 IM at the Comm Games. We caught up with Blair to find out more about her training in the lead up to the World Championships Trials.

What have you concentrated on most at training in preparation for Trials?

I've been working on getting the small things right. While I had been doing more distance IM sets before, this time around I've been focusing on sharpening up my skills. Consistency with my training has also been important as well as making sure I get recovery right so that I could make it through the brutal weeks a bit easier. I have recently implemented gym back into my training program, so getting stronger was a focus in this prep as well.

Is there one race that will be your main focus at Trials?

400m IM will be the main focus. I don't do all those 800m IM sets for nothing!

Have you experienced any obstacles in the lead up to Trials?

I am always battling an older body that loves to work against me most days. It's been about making sure I get the small things right and focusing on recovering well to keep those injuries at bay.

Do you have any tips for staying focused ahead of a big event like this one?

For me staying focused is quite easy when you have goals, especially small ones that are focused around training. If I can hit those goals in the weeks leading into a big meet I know I'm putting myself in a good position.

I also think leaving whatever happens in the pool, at the pool is important. I like to spend my time away from the pool with family and friends and not talk about training. It's always good to escape a bit, get out of my head and do normal people stuff.

If you were to qualify for World Champs, what would that mean to you?

It would be incredible to qualify for my 3rd LC World Champs. It's a stepping stone to next year and it would mean that I'm swimming fast, and well... who doesn't like swimming fast!

Holly Barratt
WA Swimmer of the Year Holly Barratt has her sights set on making the World Champs team.

Holly Barratt

Club:

Rockingham Swimming Club

Racing In:

50m Freestyle

100m Freestyle

100m Butterfly

100m Backstroke

Previous Achievements:

2018 World Championships (SC), Silver and Bronze medallist

2018 Commonwealth Games, Silver medallist

2017 World Championships (LC), Bronze medallist

Holly Barratt made her international debut at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest. At age 27, as the oldest rookie ever on a Dolphin team, she raced in the 50m and 100m Backstroke, 50m Butterfly and was part of the Bronze medal winning 4 x 100m Medley Relay team. Since then Holly has powered through the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last year where she won silver in the 50m Butterfly and made finals in the 50m Backstroke. In December 2018, Holly raced her way onto another Australian team when she headed to China for the World Short Course Champs. She raced her way to the podium in the 50m Butterfly, the 50m Backstroke, and the 4 x 50m Freestyle Relay. In recognition of Holly's successful year in the pool she deservedly received Swimming WA's top award last month, Swimmer of the Year. With all of this international experience under her belt already we will be watching closely as she gets racing in Brisbane this week.

What have you concentrated on most at training in preparation for Trials?

My skills, specifically starts, turns and finishes, as well as race practice - putting each little bit of the race together.

Is there one race that will be your main focus at Trials?

100m Backstroke.

Have you experienced any obstacles in the lead up to Trials?

Not really. I haven't had any injuries or anything, it's been a good training season.

Do you have any tips for staying focused ahead of a big event like this one?

I focus on my race plan from start to finish. That helps me concentrate on what I need to do and keeps my nerves down before a race.

If you were to qualify for World Champs, what would that mean to you?

It would be another great opportunity to race with the Dolphins swim team. It is always fun racing with the team and travelling.

Carla Buchanan
Carla is gunning to make the Australian Team heading to Korea this year.

Carla Buchanan

Club:

Acacia Bayside Swimming Club

Racing In:

100m Freestyle

200m Freestyle

400m Freestyle

Previous Achievements:

2018 World Championships (SC), Bronze medallist

2016 World Championships (SC)

Carla has been a bit of a short course champ in her career so far, qualifying for the World Short Course Champs in both 2016 and 2018, but she's looking to go the distance for World Long Course Championships this time around. Having had to battle through illness throughout her swimming career, and qualifying for Australian teams despite being unwell, it is clear that Carla is a fighter. With her eyes on Tokyo 2020 this is a key preparation year for Carla and we'll be cheering her on!

What have you concentrated on most at training in preparation for Trials?

This preparation for me has mainly been about getting really fit and race ready! I have also been really fortunate to have had some additional help with my stroke technique which has changed now to hopefully get the most out of my racing at trials!

Is there one race that will be your main focus at Trials?

The 400m and 200m Freestyle are probably equally my main focus this meet. The goal is to get an individual spot on the team for the 400m Freestyle and a relay spot at least in the 200m Freestyle.

Have you experienced any obstacles in the lead up to Trials?

I had surgery at Christmas last year on my foot and the recovery for that is still ongoing. I expected for it to be back to normal long before now so that definitely hasn't been ideal for the prep - not being able to do the work on my legs with kick, turns and dives is tough but that definitely won't stop me! I also got really sick for about two weeks recently so I lost a lot of training and fitness during that time but that was out of my control so fingers crossed!

Do you have any tips for staying focused ahead of a big event like this one?

The thing that helps me the most is just trying to remember that this is a stepping stone towards next year's Olympic trials. On the bad days when it doesnt come together, I just have to remind myself that for me this year is like a rehearsal almost. As long as I'm not giving up or letting little things defeat me then I'll be better off in the long run even if it doesn't come together this time around. The more I can learn from this prep, the better.

If you were to qualify for World Champs, what would that mean to you?

It would actually mean a lot! I have made two short course teams but am still yet to qualify for a long course Australian team, which is my next goal. If it was to happen and all come together for me, it would give me the perfect confidence boost for Olympic preparation next year.

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