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By Rokur Jakupsstovu, Swimming World European correspondent
Swedish star Therese Alshammar, known to the world as one of the top short course swimmers of all time due to her escapades on the FINA World Cup tour, is back in the pool with a full training regimen as she’s looking to pick up that ellusive Olympic gold medal in 2016.
Alshammar, who owns two silvers and a bronze from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, gave birth to her son Fred in June 2013 and has been focusing her time on being a mother. But, now, she’s back in the water, according to this broadcast feature by Swedish national television svt.se.
Here is my best attempt at translating the video:
It is now 8 months since Therese Alshammar had her son Fred, and she has the all the time been set on that her time as competition swimmer is not over. On the contrary, she has decided to do anything to reach the Olympics in Rio in two years time, and there win that gold she is missing and so much longs for.
Alshammar: A lovely objective, and a privilege to be able to have it as a goal, to be able to work towards it. And it is motivating in itself to think that you have a chance to be there and compete for some of the biggest medals. But then there is nothing I’m missing, as this is my normal life, I find it most fun to be able to train and see if I can swim faster than I’ve ever done. And to do what’s needed to try to win that Olympic gold medal.
She has had a life as one of the world’s best swimmers, that has lasted for more than 20 years now, without breaks. The last 10 years together with the coach Johan Wallberg, father of Fred. They have lived a meticulously organized life, structure has been the keyword in their existence.
Wallberg: Right now there has been quite the change, from filling water bottles to now being babysitter and diaper changer and water bottle filler.
Interviewer: That is maybe good also?
Wallberg: Yes, and we have done this together for so many years that the better it is going, the less we need to talk. It works best when we are quiet.
(Johan and Therese chatting)
Alshammar: And then, you feel that it isn’t so important as you think that everything is done at precisely the time you planned. That you can plan a week’s work and then be happy about the things that you succeeded with, rather than the things you didn’t.
It is first this last week that the intensity is at the same level as before, and she says that the first competition probably will be in the beginning of June. Here in Tenerife, she has access to swim in a so-called swim tunnel, where it is possible to get exactly the level of speed training you want, while at the same time film the technique underwater with special cameras. A facility that doesn’t exist in Sweden.
(Johan telling Therese the split times)
Alshammar: I believe that, it is very intriguing to see. I mean, I believe that I can improve a lot of factors in my technique and my races when I compete, and those things drive me. To see if I can perform the movements somewhat better technically, and if I can be a bit stronger in decisive moments in the start and turns, and if I can get a better drive in my swimming. Those things I feel are very exciting.
And Therese Alshammar is very much aware that there exist many examples of women in elite sports who actually got better and stronger after having children. And she wants very much to be one of them.
Alshammar: Yes I hope so. Not, it is nothing we are looking at, nothing I feel yet, but I believe at the same time that you get a different … even if you don’t get an improved heart-volume, then maybe you get a different focus in your life, and you probably can endure more, because you have to learn yourself to prioritize what is important and what is not in your sport, and be more effective when you have kids. So that I think can make one better. And then it feels motivating to be able to do something for my sake again, and see … I mean, I never wanted to quit, I wanted to do both, and now it seems to work, so I am very, very happy.