Sharon van Rouwendaal Pushing Herself To Success In Kazan (SW Radio)

139 VAN ROUWENDAAL Sharon NED 10 Km Gold Medal Open Water 32nd LEN European Championships Swimming, Diving, Synchro, Open Water Berlin, Germany 2014 Aug.13 th - Aug. 24 th Day01 - Aug. 13 Photo A.Staccioli/Deepbluemedia/Insidefoto

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Sharon Van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands has been very busy at the world championships, and has likely swum more than anyone in the entire competition. She finished second in the 10K open water swim on July 28, qualifying for the Olympics, then returned five days later to snag a bronze medal in the 400 freestyle on the first day of pool swim.

Despite the grueling schedule, Van Rouwendaal was able to put up a lifetime best in the prelims of the 800 freestyle today with an 8:24.83 to lower her own national record. She talked about the race itself, and why a personal best was important.

“I was with (Jessica) Ashwood and (Jaz) Carlin (through the race), and I wanted to stay with them,” she said. “The last 200, I wanted to go a little bit in front. I needed to (swim a best time), because otherwise, you don’t have the final.”

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Taking on such a grueling swimming schedule in Kazan made Van Rouwendaal think a medal wasn’t possible in the 400 free. But a strong prelim swim boosted her confidence that she could fight for a medal.

“When I swam 4:05 in the morning, I thought maybe I could swim a 4:03 (in finals),” she said. “And it was 4:03 and I was fighting for the medal, and it happened.”

As one of the competitors who races against Katie Ledecky, Van Rouwendaal said she’s inspired by the progress Ledecky has made for the sport.

“She’s amazing,” she said. “All the girls this morning were like, ‘The championship record is 8:13, and it was her time (during) the 1500.’ I don’t know how she does it.”