The road to Rio: City of Sheffield swimmer Rebecca targets Olympic medal

Flashback: Rebecca Turner with her gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Freestyle during the British Gas Swimming Championships at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, London in  2012.  Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Flashback: Rebecca Turner with her gold medal after winning the Women's 200m Freestyle during the British Gas Swimming Championships at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, London in 2012. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
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With less than a year to go to the 2016 Olympic Games, Grass Roots and Sheffield City Trust present the latest in their series Ones to Watch for Rio - swimming star Rebecca Turner.

As far as elite sport is concerned, there aren’t many disciplines with a schedule as busy and demanding as swimming.

With an intense training regime comes incredible commitment and dedication – traits personified by Olympic swimmer Rebecca Turner, who has trained at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre since the very beginning.

Rebecca has won numerous titles in her career to date, including gold in the 4x200m Freestyle relay at the European Juniors in 2007 and 2008, silver in the same discipline at the 2008 World Youth Championships and her first senior medal at the 2011 British Championships.

But to compete at the top, you are required to have resilience at a level few others will ever reach.

After finishing training at 7.30pm, Rebecca has just enough time to grab something to eat before going to bed and getting up again at 4.30am.

She trains nine or ten times per week at Ponds Forge, covering a staggering 6,000 metres – something she’s built up over time after initially joining the City of Sheffield Swim Squad in 2004.

Back then she was a small fish in a big pond, but thanks to the expert coaching of her trainer Russ Barber, vital support from Sheffield Hallam University and the excellent facilities of Ponds Forge, she is now reaching the top of regional, national and international swimming.

“Without doubt I couldn’t be where I am without the funding from Sheffield Hallam,” said Rebecca, who is also looking to secure sponsorship.

Winning gold at the 2012 British Championships led to her securing her place in Team GB for the 2012 Olympic Games.

“It was a massive honour to be able to swim for Great Britain at a home Olympics, and for my friends and family to watch too,” said Rebecca.

“The crowd was amazing. I can’t quite describe the roar given when they saw a British swimmer appear on the scoreboard.”

But despite the fact that she’s now competing at the very top, Rebecca never forgets her roots back home in Rotherham, where she lived until 2012.

“I started swimming at a very young age and swam three times a week for the Rotherham Metro swimming club, before I joined the Steel City Swim Squad,” said Rebecca, who turned 23 last month.

The quality of training that Rebecca receives from Russ Barber and his team goes hand-in-hand with top-class facilities, too.

“I’m unbelievably lucky to be able call Ponds Forge my training base,” said Rebecca.

“When I compare these facilities to the ones which other girls I know from the swimming team have to use there’s just no contest. They’re second to none.”

But what about Rio next year? “I get back into training on 1 September. Every athlete wants to get to Rio but for me, the aim is to medal,” said Rebecca.

“There are so many small margins in swimming that if you put the work in you can get into the medals.

“I’ve got to strive to be the best I can be by the time the qualifiers, and then the Games themselves, come around.”