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Gold medalist swimming towards Olympic dream

April 6th, 2017

A dedicated swimmer is one stroke closer to achieving her Olympic dream after qualifying to compete in a regional championships.

Eleven-year-old Erlina, a pupil at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, trains in the pool seven days a week and still manages to find time for running, netball, hockey, lacrosse and rounders.

The freestyler will race in the South West Regional Championships in May after winning two gold and two silver medals, along with placing in four other races in the Gloucester county competition.

She said: “Swimming is my top sport – I fit the rest in with difficulty!

“Most of my training sessions are in the evening, but I have to get up at 5am on Tuesday mornings. I don’t really mind because I enjoy it when I’m in the pool.

“I like the excitement and energy I get from swimming. Some people get nervous before competitions, but I just can’t wait to start racing. I love the thrill of it and I’ve made lots of friends through swimming.

“I want to get to the Olympics – it would mean everything.”

Erlina’s personal best time for 100 metres front crawl is one minute and seven seconds, and she has swum 50 metres in just 30.68 seconds. Each training session focuses on a different stroke, and Erlina has developed her own way of making them interesting.

“When I train I sing to keep the rhythm,” she said.

“I went through a phase of singing James Bay’s Hold Back the River all the time. Now I’m singing Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. When I’m racing I’m thinking about my personal best time and trying to beat that. I also really don’t want my sister to be quicker than me. She’s in Year 3 at the moment and trying to beat me in the pool.”

Now a member of Cinderford & District Swimming Club, Erlina learned to swim when she was two-years-old.

She added: “I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support from my parents. I’m going to keep training and put all the effort I can in.

“Sport helps with time management, I have to get myself out of the house for swimming and most of the time I end up doing my school work sitting on the poolside.

“All the sports I do help each other. I run with my dad a lot which builds my stamina and helps with my leg kicks.”

Erlina also belongs to an athletics club in the Forest of Dean, racing most weekends.

Along with two other teammates from HMSG, she came third in the Welsh National Cross Country Championships recently, bringing home the bronze medal.

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