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Guides: Young Sports Personality of the Year

Last Updated: Saturday December 02 2006 11:05 GMT

Francesca Halsall - Swimming

Sport: Swimming
Born: 12-4-90
Hometown: Southport
Achievements: Won two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games in 2006. Won a gold medal at the European Championships in 2006. Won a gold medal, two silvers and three bronzes at the British Championships in 2006.

How did you get into swimming?

I got into swimming when I was about seven or eight, because all my friends were going to swimming lessons and I wasn't, so I felt left out so I had to join in to see what was going on.

I really like swimming because you get to meet new people. I get to fly around the world and visit places like Australia and Singapore. The competition is good and you keep fit as well.

How hard do you have to train?

I do 28 hours of training a week. Five of those sessions are in the gym and the rest of the time I spend training to be a better swimmer in the pool.

What strokes do you swim?

I swim all four strokes - butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and front crawl.

Front crawl is my favourite because it's the fastest stroke and it gets me there the quickest.

Some times it's quite hard to get right technically because you have to have high elbows and pull strong through the back and kick your legs hard.

What's it like when you compete?

When I do big competitions like the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships it was a bit scary at first because all the girls were bigger and stronger than me and I was quite little.

But because I'm quite competitive and enjoy that environment it's quite nice to stand up and race against girls that are faster than me.

What do you need to succeed as a swimmer?

For me, what it takes to be a champion is have better skills than everyone else, have a better diet than everyone else and train harder and faster than everyone else.

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