Within a week of arriving back at Bond, Commonwealth Gold Medallist swimmer Melanie Schlanger was sitting an exam and immersed in training for the 2014 Hancock Prospecting Pan Pacific Championships, which start on the Gold Coast today.
We caught up with Mel for a quick debrief on the Games and to chat about the Pan Pacs when her squad were training here at Bond’s 50m outdoor heated Olympic pool…
Firstly – congratulations on your gold medal and new world record! How are you feeling after your success at the Commonwealth Games?
It’s hard to describe the feeling… a world record and gold medal are things you dream of when you’re a kid. You chase it hard, but don’t ever really expect it to happen, so it’s pretty exciting when it does. In fact it gives me goosebumps to think about it.
It’s always exciting to be representing your country, but the Commonwealth Games experience is particularly amazing – to be overseas and mixing with all the other sporting teams is brilliant.
How do you cope coming back from the Games and going straight into study and more training?
A week after I got home I had an exam so it is a bit of a reality check; you come back down to earth pretty quickly and I’ve had to get back into study mode straight away. It was a bit stressful for a while there, but I got through it and hopefully the results will show in my study as well!
I enjoy the excitement of being able to switch between swimming and the study; it’s a good balance in life and I really enjoy both of them.
It’s tricky going into a major competition like the Pan Pacs off the back of another one; we don’t do it too often. It can be a bit of a balancing act to be honest - we really gauge how we’re going by how we do in the pool. You don’t want to be too ‘fresh’ so that you lose fitness; but you don’t want to go back too hard that you lose freshness. I work closely with my coach (Glenn Baker) to assess how I feel and we create a session based on that.
In terms of training for a major event, how important is mental preparation, compared to physical?
The mental side of things is incredibly important in any sport, and you can basically make or break yourself before you even compete.
It’s important to stay relaxed and focused on what you can control – which is my performance in the pool, and not worrying too much about the results. What’s key for me is just focussing on swimming fast and having fun; if I’m having fun, I swim fast. It’s really about enjoying the moment.
I’ve been in this sport for quite a long time and tried every kind of approach. I’ve put piles of pressure on myself, and I’ve done the exact opposite. Somewhere in the middle is where I perform my best. That’s where I’ll be in my own mind come time to race. When I walk out behind the blocks I’ll be enjoying the moment of being out there.
What events will you be competing in at the Pan Pacs?
I’ll be competing in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle and any relays that come from those results. I’m really looking forward to getting some individual swims in, as I swum really well in the 50m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games. My main event this time will be the 100m freestyle; it’s my favourite and I love it – I can’t wait to get on the blocks for that one.
So what are your plans post-Pan Pacs?
Actually, I’ll be getting married just after the Pan Pacs! Plus I’ll be straight back into training. Although the next major event for me isn’t until the World Championship trials in March/April then the event in July/August, we’ll be right back into the hard slog.
This year is a pretty big one for me, with competition and getting married. But our plans are in place and the countdown is on – I can’t wait.
The 2014 Hancock Prospecting Pan Pacific Championships are taking place at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre from 21-24 August.
Tickets are available through ticketmaster or you can follow Mel’s performance on Network Ten, through ONE HD and Channel 10 or following social media (Swimming Australia / @SwimmingAUS / #panpacs2014 / #Swim4Gold)