DELIGHTED Katy Venters is more determined than ever to pursue her Olympic dream after landing a bronze medal in the British Swimming Championships.
The 17-year-old from Salendine Nook swam five personal bests in six races in a tremendous British Gas-sponsored championships at Ponds Forge.
The Greenhead College student finished sixth in the 100m backstroke before making the podium in her strongest event, the 200m of the same discipline.
“I was really happy to get a medal and the whole championships went much better for me than I thought they would,” said the Borough of Kirklees club ace.
“At the start, I was really nervous because this is the first senior nationals where I have been expected to challenge in finals and everything.
“But from the very first race, when I did a personal best in the 100m heats, I knew I was swimming well and it settled me down.”
Already part of the Olympic train-on squad for 2012 in London, Katy impressed by landing gold and bronze medals in the Youth Commonwealth Games in India last October.
She has trained hard since then and, with just a year to the senior Commonwealth Games, that work paid off in Sheffield.
“After that first race I just carried on lowering my times,” she explained.
“I had personal bests in the 100m semi-finals and final, and finishing sixth in the final helped me a lot for the rest of the week.
“It helped me to get into a rhythm and I was able to carry that through into the 200m races.”
Having gone into the championships with a 14th-ranked personal best of 1-04.97 for the 100m, she emerged from the final with a new best of 1-03.51 (including a personal best for 50m along the way) and with renewed confidence for her top event.
Ranked seventh before the 200m backstroke began, with a personal best of 2-15.10 from that gold medal swim in India, she qualified fastest from the heats with a terrific new best time of 2-12.94 to underline her form.
She didn’t managed to beat that time in the semis, still qualifying in a third-fastest 2-13.56, but then defeated the clock yet again with 2-12.40 to take bronze in the final, when Olympic finalist Lizzie Simmonds took gold and Georgia Davies (who also swam in India) finished second.
“I knew it would be hard to get the gold because Lizzie was coming in off the back of an Olympic final in Beijing, but I really wanted to get a medal,” explained Katy.
“During the race, I couldn’t see the girl in the next lane to me and I didn’t really know how I was doing, so I was really happy when I touched at the end, turned to look at the scoreboard and saw my name third.
“Considering who I was up against in Lizzie and Georgia it was nice to do so well and the medal means a lot because I was up against the best in the country, not just the best in my age group.
“It has given me a lot of confidence, too, because I know my times are coming down.
“I’ve always wanted to make the Olympics and, at this stage, I didn’t expect to drop so much time, so it feels really good.
“At the moment, I’m only two tenths of a second outside last year’s Olympic qualifying time, so it should make it easier over the next three years to achieve the times I need.”
So what’s next (after she has answered all the texts from friends and family)?
“I’ve got a bit of a break before the national age-group finals and then we’ve got other meets like the North East Counties,” she said.
“It’s gone well for me, so it’s just a matter of building from here.”