FEATURE: Fit-again Polly Swann raring to go at Olympic Trials

Polly Swann believes an injury-enforced gap year from the sport has actually made her stronger both physically and mentally ahead of the GB Rowing Team Olympic Trials.


(From left) Polly Swann, Caragh McMurtry, Rosamund Bradbury, Zoe de Toledo, Zoe Lee, Louisa Reeve, Katie Greves, Donna Etiebet and Jess Eddie won women's eight bronze at the Aiguebelette World Cup in 2014

Swann, a former World and European champion in the women’s pair, sat out the GB Rowing Team’s entire 2015 campaign with a back problem.

She trained on her own to keep her fitness levels up before returning to the women’s team in September at the start of the Olympic season.

Now, with the Olympic Trials – taking place at the national training centre in Caversham from March 21-23 – rapidly approaching, Swann says she is raring to go.

“Rio is so close and we are getting to the sharp end of selection, so it’s actually quite an exciting time for me,” she said.

“The whole season so far has been about cementing myself back into the team and showing I have come back from injury in a stronger place. Touch wood, none of the niggles that I might have been worrying about have come through yet and I’m feeling fit.

“Because I had last year off, for me I’m looking at selection as an opportunity rather than something to be scared of. We’ve had some internal testing recently and I’ve definitely noticed I was a lot less nervous than I would normally be. They were really fun.

“In a funny old way I quite enjoyed my rehab, it allowed me to challenge myself in other ways and develop strengths in other areas.

“It’s good to take some time out and reassess how motivated you are for the sport. I was all by myself for six to eight months but I still trained hard every day, so it confirmed this is one of my passions and I am really excited about the future.”

Swann won her World and European titles in the women’s pair with Helen Glover in 2013 and 2014 respectively before, on Heather Stanning’s return to the squad, switching back to the women’s eight.

She doesn’t mind what boat she competes in this year, as long as she finally gets to make her Olympic debut four years after being ruled out of London 2012 contention by another back injury.

“It would be amazing just to go to the Olympics, let alone win it,” said the 27-year-old.

“With the group of girls we have, we should be pushing well into the medals in a number of boats. It doesn’t really matter to me where I’m selected, I just think it’s going to be a good year.”

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