Spofforth looking for the perfect ending

Gemma Spofforth
Gemma Spofforth
Kate Steels-Fryatt in action  Picture: Terry Scott

What it’s like to be an ice water swimmer

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GEMMA Spofforth will release a painstakingly honest and deeply personal book charting her life in and out of the pool – but not before penning a golden final chapter.

The Portsmouth Northsea swimmer’s autobiography plans became public during the European Swimming Championships in 2010, where she took gold a year after winning the world 100m backstroke title.

However, don’t expect it to be all laughter and smiles for Spofforth’s journey. Even before moving to train and study in America, it wouldn’t look out of place in a Shakespeare tragedy.

There have been highs – her world gold in Rome in 2009 one of them – but incredible lows, with both family bereavement and at one stage poor form almost leading to retirement.

However, with the relief of a 100m backstroke swim guaranteed at this summer’s Olympics – secured at the British Gas Championships in March – Spofforth will want to close her book smiling.

‘I have been writing since the last Olympics in 2008 and it is just about my journey and everything that I have been through,’ said Spofforth – who finished fourth in the 100m backstroke at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

‘It is one of those things that I want to portray out there but it is not “hey guys this is my life”, it is “this is what I have been through and this is how I have dealt with it”.

‘And anyone that needs inspiration or wants to know that what they are feeling is okay, can look through my book and draw a parallel with it.

‘I had a clinic the other day in the US with about 200 kids – all extremely excited about swimming – and, despite being British, they were still excited to speak to me as they would any American.

‘And I think it is that passion and innocence in their minds and that blank slate they have that makes it nice to inspire.

‘And I am looking forward to what I can do at the Olympics this summer.’

Spofforth’s mother Lesley died of cancer in 2007 and she used that as inspiration to win world gold in a world record time in 2009.

Similar heights – European gold aside – haven’t followed, with double individual silver at the Commonwealth Games in 2010 not sitting well and not a single final reached at last year’s World Championships.

Spofforth admits she hasn’t had the same spark since coming to terms with her mother’s death and, while refusing to get excited about this summer just yet, she’s determined to get it back for London.

‘I have been to an Olympic trials before and an Olympics before but I thought I was going to be a lot more nervous and a lot more excited than I actually was in March,’ she added.

‘I think I numbed myself a lot more than I expected and it took all the emotions away from it just so I could focus on my swimming and I think that hindered my performance a little bit.

‘You need those nerves and you need that excitement to be able to swim fast.

‘But if I was excited now and really into the Games, I would be exhausted come the time when I need that hype to race.’

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