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MAKING A SPLASH: with Olympic Swimmer Melissa Ingram

Olympic preparation a 4-year journey

Olympic Swimmer Melissa Ingram is a regular contributor to Channel Magazine.
As well as being a world class swimmer, Melissa is a budding writer, with plans to move into journalism when she finally hangs up the togs. Melissa prepared this column in early June as she was starting on the final leg of preparations for London.

Many people think that an Olympic preparation starts months before an Olympic Games. Wrong! I started to prepare for the London Olympics the day I got home from the Beijing Olympics in August 2008. I stepped off the plane in Auckland and decided that I was going to do everything in my power to get on the podium in London. It has been four years of highs and lows, triumphs and disappointments, but throughout every obstacle and every achievement, I’ve had my eyes firmly set on the prize.
As an athlete I have to lead a pretty selfish life. I have to constantly consider my rest and recovery to ensure that I can get the most out of my body for every training session. As swimmers we try to train as hard as we can for as long as we can, clocking up to 70km a week in the pool. Add seven hours of gym work on top of that and it results in a constant balancing act of training, eating and sleeping. Some swimmers like Michael Phelps get to eat what they want, but for a lot of us nutrition involves daily monitoring of our food intake so that we eat enough to get through our heavy training schedule, but not too much that we put on weight. We want to be strong and streamlined and this requires consistent monitoring of our fat levels.
I swam under the Olympic qualifying time in the 200m Backstroke at last year’s World Championships and therefore have had a full year to focus on my Olympic preparation and not worry too much about resting and prepping for other competitions. I spent a month in Brisbane in October last year training with Meagan Nay who is ranked third in the world in my event. I was even lucky enough to live with her and become great friends. I then followed this up with three World Cup events where I won two gold, one silver, and one bronze medal, as well as breaking two national records. Since then it has been training, training, training, apart from a small rest for our national championships in March.
I’m lucky enough to train at the Millennium Institute where world class facilities are accessible on a daily basis. I have chosen to predominantly stay at home and train in my build up to London. I raced overseas a lot last year so this year I’m more focused on clocking up the miles and getting in the best shape possible because I know that I had plenty of race practice and experience last year. My only overseas travel before the Olympics will be a two week training camp in Cairns and a hit out against the Australian Olympic Swim Team in Canberra in June. On July 10th the Olympic Swim Team will head to Belgium for a preparation camp. This is a chance for the team to acclimatise, rest and bond. We will move into the Olympic Village on the 23rd of July before racing kicks off on the 28th of July. My main event is the 200m Backstroke and this is always near the end of the racing programme; day six in fact. I’ll also be competing in the 100m Backstroke on day two, but this will serve as more of a warm up for the 200m because I’m more of an endurance athlete than sprinter.
That’s all from me before London begins. Enjoy the Olympic coverage and let’s get behind our New Zealand athletes. Go Kiwi!

North Harbour Club AIMES Awards
My London preparations have gone hand in hand with the opportunities afforded to me by my winning a North Harbour Club AIMES Award. I was extremely fortunate to be the supreme winner at the 2009 AIMES Awards.

2009 was a rough year for me. I had had all my funding cut when I missed the qualifying time for the World Championships by only a few tenths of a second in three events. After finishing 11th at the Olympics just six months before this, it was a bitter blow to take as I felt like a lot of people turned their backs on me. But I was more determined than ever to chase my dream.
I applied for an AIMES Award and nervously went through the interview process and emerged a winner.
The financial contribution of the award has been hugely significant to my swimming career, but it was also a huge confidence boost for me to have an amazing organisation such as the North Harbour Club believing in me and my ability to succeed on the world stage.
The North Harbour Club is made up of incredibly successful people who are passionate about the North Shore community and giving back. Every North Harbour Club function that I have been fortunate enough to attend, I have loved.
I am thankful everyday for my North Harbour Club AIMES Award and I greatly encourage anyone with big dreams to apply.

by Melissa Ingram