SWEET SIXTEEN YEAR OLD RETURNS TO THE POOL
By Samantha Asbury
After returning from Beijing just a few weeks ago, Cate Campbell is back in the pool and training hard.
The sixteen year old from Indooroopilly, Queensland, is in Melbourne this week, to compete at the Telstra Australian Short Course Championships.
Campbell said she was feeling the effects of Olympic competition, and hard training.
"It's my first week back into training, and I'm just so sore, and so tired. And then, you get tired of being so tired and sore," she laughed.
Getting up at four o'clock for swim training is something she is just going to have to get used to again.
"I haven't had to get up that early for about eight weeks, because when we were overseas, training started at about eight o'clock," she said.
After an amazing experience at her first Olympic Games, the teenager said she was grateful for having been given the opportunity.
"I've taken so much away from the experience, and I think I've become a stronger athlete because of it," she said.
Campbell admitted that at times, it was an overwhelming experience.
"It was my first big international meet, and you just couldn't get the Olympics out of your face. You hop on an Olympic bus, and you drive in an Olympic lane, then you go to the Olympic dining hall, and we were staying in the Olympic village. The crowd is just so much bigger, and the competition was so much higher."
Campbell, who had a disappointing swim in the 100 metres freestyle, missing out on qualifying for the final, said she had to reassess her goals.
"I don't usually feed off other people's expectations, but I put a lot of expectation on myself," she said.
"I spoke to Simon (Cusack), and he told me to focus on what I would get out of the experience, as an athlete, rather than focussing on the times I was swimming."
"I realised that for a 16 year old, it was phenomenal what I had achieved."
But the schoolgirl admitted she had put a lot of pressure on herself to achieve her goals.
"I think I was worried about letting myself, my family, my friends, and my team down," she said.
To gain some perspective, Campbell said she spoke to two-time Olympian, and fellow sprint queen, Libby Trickett.
"Libby and I have a great friendship, but we also have a great rivalry. It's a bit like cat and mouse," Campbell explained.
"I asked her about her time in Athens, and she really helped me get through that disappointment."
In a sign of her maturity, Campbell bounced back while in Beijing, claiming a bronze medal in the 50 metres freestyle, and helping Australia take Bronze in the Women's 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay.
"I just had fun with the 50 free. I wasn't so worried about the outcome, and I just took a step back from thinking about the time," she said.
While London is just four years away, Campbell said she wasn't really thinking about it just yet.
"My goals now are just to get through National Short Course, and get back into hard training", she said.
"But I guess there's a drawer somewhere at the very back of my mind, tucked away, that's thinking about London."
Like many of her Beijing teammates, Campbell was looking forward to having a bit of time off from training.
"I'm going on a little holiday with my family, down to the beach for a few days. I don't think we've been on a holiday for about two years, because I'm always swimming," she said.
But despite this, the teenager is keeping everything in perspective.
"To be ultimately successful, I think you do need that balance between family, school, friends, and swimming."
Campbell will draw from her recent experiences in Beijing, in the 50 metres freestyle at this week's National Short Course Championships.
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