Joining the British Para Swimming set up earlier this year, Reece Dunn has taken part in many competitions which has seen him break numerous World Records and win many medals including two Golds at the World Para Swimming World Series in Berlin. Last month, Reece competed at the World Para Swimming Championships, coming away with Gold in the S14 200m Freestyle, 100m Butterfly and Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay, along with Silver in the 200m Individual Medley. Speaking with Reece, he tells us about breaking his first World Record, his training regime and his success at the World Para Swimming Championships.
You won three Gold medals and one Silver at the World Para Swimming Championships in London earlier this year, how was it standing on the podium in front of a home crowd?
Standing on the podium was amazing enough, but to do it in front of a home crowd too made it extra special for me. With my family being there too, it made me feel incredibly proud of the hard work finally paying off.
Can you tell us about competing in the Mixed 4x100m Freestyle Relay at the Championships, where you took the Gold medal?
The relay was a special moment for me and the whole team, especially with it being the first time it was swam at a major competition. To win and to do it in a massive WR time was awesome too. We knew it would be a tough race, but we managed to pull through, and we all swam well.
Do the relay teams get chance to train together often and how is it working with others instead of racing alone?
Most of the year all the swimmers train in their programs, and often the only time we get to train together are camps and competitions. Relays are always fun, as you race with the people you usually race against, so it’s a nice change.
What would you say has been your most challenging competition this year?
The most challenging competition I had this year was probably the British Swimming Championships back in April. I had to swim a wide variety of events due to the Classification testing I had to do, so to try and perform well in my main events to try and qualify for the World Championships as well as swimming more events than usual was tough.
How does it feel when you realise you’ve broken a World Record?
When I first broke the World Record for the S14 200m Freestyle back in June at the Berlin World Para Swimming Series, I was beyond shocked as I was in a block of some tough training and wasn’t even expecting to PB let alone beat my previous best by three seconds and break the World Record.
Do you have any rituals before competing?
I don’t have any rituals, at least that I know of; I may do things without realising. I don’t usually listen to music before a race either.
What was your first Team GB competition and can you say about the experience?
My first international meet was the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships in London. The experience was amazing, I had a lot of fun swimming and having a good time with the team. It was also a chance to get used to the international scene and to see how I deal with the pressure of international competition.
Are you able to take time off after a competition and how do you like to wind-down?
I usually have a few days off after a competition, but at the end of the season competition, I’ll take a good three/four weeks off. During my time away from the pool I like to play video games, watch movies and spend time with family and friends.
Can you tell us about your training?
I train eight/ten times a week in the pool, from two hours to two-and-a-half-hour sessions depending on the type of session. I also do three gym sessions a week to work on my conditioning and two yoga sessions, if I can fit them in, to improve my flexibility.
How has your training changed over the last couple of years?
My training has changed a lot over the years; I’ve been at the same program since I was eleven, so the core elements are the same, but the amount I train has changed dramatically.
When did you start swimming competitively and do you remember how you felt when you first won a race?
I’ve been in competitive swimming for a very long time; my first competitive race was at the age of nine. I was a very competitive youngster, I always wanted to be the best at everything I did; I remember winning my first race and being very pleased and excited for the next race to come.
Were there any swimmers that inspired you when starting out?
When I was young, I didn’t know much about swimming, but as I got older, I began to watch the international races. The earliest I remember is the 2008 Olympics and watching Michael Phelps win eight Golds, so I guess he is someone who inspired me.
What is the qualification process for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?
The qualifying process will be British Championships in April 2020, and British Swimming will release selection criteria later on this season, and we will use that as a guide to, hopefully, make selection.
Do you know what competition you are preparing for next?
I’m unsure of my next competition, as I’ve not really planned anything out yet. But my first important one of the year will be in December, which is the Para Swimming Winter Nationals.
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