Cate Campbell swum to success in Beijing 2008, scooping up two bronze medals in the 50 m freestyle and 4 x 100 m relay, and picking up gold in the same relay event in London. Sharing the medal podium with her sister Bronte at the Commonwealth Games recently in Glasgow, she tells us how she got her start in swimming and her top tips for aspiring swimmers.
How did you get into swimming?
My mother was a synchronised swimmer for South Africa and so she taught my siblings and me how to swim. We moved to Australia when I was nine and I joined a local swim club to meet some new people. It was there that I met my coach, Simon Cusack, and I have been training with him for the past 13 years.
When did you realise you were pretty good at it?
I always had a dream of going to the Olympics so when I was a kid, I tried a whole heap of sports – tennis, softball, netball. However, after being put down an age group in tennis, getting a black eye from softball and nearly dislocating my hip playing netball, I had no choice but to pursue swimming. I probably noticed that I was fairly good at it when I was about 13, and thought it was my best bet at achieving my Olympic dream.
What motivates you?
Sometimes I do question my sanity. I train over 20 hours a week to swim one 100 m race that lasts less than a minute. But I am addicted to the challenge of pushing your boundaries and bettering yourself. And this doesn’t just apply to swimming; I use this in all avenues of life. If I am writing a university assignment, I want it to be the best assignment my tutor reads – it isn’t by a long shot, but at least if I approach it with that attitude, I know that it will be the best I can produce.
What are the choices you make every day to be your best?
Simple everyday choices create habits. Things like going to bed early, making sure that I drink enough water and eat the right foods consistently can make a massive difference in the long run.
How do you spend your time out of the pool?
Out of the pool, I enjoy reading, baking and catching up with my poor, neglected friends.
What tips would you give to people looking to improve their swimming?
My top tip for aspiring swimmers is to always count your strokes in training. You want to aim for the same stroke count each lap. Counting your strokes makes you focus on technique and that is very important when you get tired.
What have been your favourite pools to swim in?
My favourite pool that I have swum in was the warm up pool in Rome. It was originally an Emperor’s personal lap pool, made entirely out of marble and adorned with mosaics.
What are the must-haves in your training bag?
Moisturiser is your friend. It is my absolute must-have in my training bag – that, and a snack for after training.
Who would you love to race against?
I would love to race against Susie O’Neil. When I was in grade five I had to dress up as an Australian icon and I dressed up as Susie.
Best advice you have received?
Be kind and humble, and, in the words of Rudyard Kipling, “meet with triumph and disaster and treat both those impostors just the same”.