Willmott wants to make splash on ‘home turf’

UEL's Aimee Willmott is preparing for the British Championships at the London Aquatics Centre next m

UEL's Aimee Willmott is preparing for the British Championships at the London Aquatics Centre next mont (pic: Andrew Milligan/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

UEL student preparing for British Championships

Firmly settled in her new surroundings, Aimee Willmott is confident home advantage can play into her hands when next month’s British Swimming Championships take place at the London Aquatics Centre.

Willmott undertook a big lifestyle change last September, swapping the familiar backdrop of Middlesbrough to move down to the English capital to study at the University of East London and train at the London 2012 swimming venue in Stratford.

It may have taken her a little while to settle, but six months down the line the 22-year-old believes things are firmly clicking into place.

Willmott’s next big challenge is the British Swimming Championships from April 14-18 which double up as qualification for this summer’s World Championships in Russia.

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And she believes the bonus of living nearby will help provide the extra edge as she chases down the required times.

“It will be great to compete in a pool so close to home. I train there every day so it will be really strange being able to walk to and from my house to the pool,” she said.

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“It means I can get as much rest as possible and hopefully that will help with my performances.

“It will be amazing to race there again and for the spectators to come and watch again. It will be strange going from training there to competing there.

“It took me a while to settle in at first. It was my first time away from home and training in a different size pool. But since Christmas I’ve really settled in.

“I’ve been swimming well so far this year. The qualification times are quick for the Worlds, but not out of reach. I’d love to go out and get the times in London.”

Willmott heads to the British Championships looking to defend the 400m individual medley and 200m butterfly titles she won in Glasgow last year, while there was also two further trips to the podium after she finished second in the 400m freestyle and 200m individual medley.

That meet was the start of a successful summer for the swimmer who also took double Commonwealth Games silver and a silver and bronze home from the European Championships.

But while the Olympic Games in Rio tick ever closer, Willmott insists she is not getting carried away.

“Last summer was a lot of fun with everything going on, it was hectic but everyone really enjoyed it,” she added.

“British Swimming is looking really strong at the moment. We’ve got a lot of young swimmers, 19/20-year-olds, who are coming through into the team and it’s pushing everyone.

“I’m just taking each year at a time. This year the focus is to try and qualify for the Worlds, but if I can swim fast that will make things easier for next year.”

*Come and support the country’s best swimmers from 14-18 April at London Aquatics Centre.

Buy your tickets now http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/feature/british-swimming.

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