Interview: Charlie Boldison, 2012 Swimming Champs finalist

Goggleblog catches up with Barnet Copthall Swimming Club‘s brightest young talent, Charlie Boldison. Just 19, he recently competed in the British Gas National Swimming Championships at the Aquatics Centre in Stratford, London, finishing 7th in the 100m backstroke final and 6th in the 200m backstroke final. Here he talks about his experiences of swimming at the venue for the London 2012 Olympics.

Was it different swimming in the national swimming championships in the Olympic Pool in Olympic year? Did you feel much more pressure and how did you combat the nerves?

It was definitely a new experience swimming in the Olympic pool. I had high expectations of the Aquatics Centre and it certainly lived up to them. It was an incredible feeling knowing that I was racing in the same pool that the Olympic games are going to be held in and as a result nerves did run quite high. Fortunately, though I usually swim pretty well off of nerves, so I didn’t feel like I should be fighting the nerves and embraced them.

What did you think about the venue? I have heard some feedback from backstrokers that it was difficult to swim in a straight line because of the curvy roof?

The venue was just incredible. The pool itself was a pleasure to swim in, and my favourite aspect of the pool was that the starting blocks had lights on them which would light up and indicate the top 3 placed swimmers in each race. The surroundings of the pool were consistently spotless, and the 50m warm up/swim down pool was a luxury to swim down in after races. Unfortunately the roof was a problem for myself and other backstrokers, it was curved and had clusters of spotlights which were randomly arranged. As a result, I ended up crashing into the lane rope in about three of my swims which was frustrating to say the least. However this is just an extra aspect people will have to prepare for when they come to race here. Some competitions abroad are held in open air pools, where there is no roof at all, so we’re just going to have to practise swimming in straight lines!

Charlie Boldison: In action in the backstroke

Do you have another chance to qualify for this year’s games?

Only one person managed to qualify for the 100m backstroke (Liam Tancock), and nobody qualified for the 200m backstroke, so I have another chance in June at the second trials to qualify. It’ll be a long shot and I will try my best, however I won’t be too disappointed if I don’t make it this year. I am still quite young for a male swimmer and will be in a much better position to qualify in 2016.

What is your typical training regime? And how do you prepare specifically for something as big as the British Gas National Champs?

Typically I swim eight times a week for two hours at a time, with two gym sessions a week. Three of those eight swim sessions are done early in the mornings, starting at 5.15am. The training program I take part in has been developed to suit me best over the last few years by my coach Rhys Gormley. When the time comes to take part in key meets like British Championships and Nationals, I usually have a couple weeks rest beforehand. During these rest periods my training is much less intensive, and more technique based. The idea of the rest period (or taper) is to let my body build up on energy and, by the time it comes to race, I feel extremely fresh and ready to race.

What’s next for you? Are you planning to train abroad like a lot of swimmers seem to do or get a swimming scholarship at a University?

I plan on continuing what I am currently doing for as long as it’s possible to do so. I chose not to go to university and to focus on my swimming career as much as I can. A lot of swimmers do tend to go to university and train with the university teams, but I work extremely well with Rhys, and I know that I will go further in my swimming than I would be able to with any other coach. In the daytime I teach swimming at Barnet Copthall (the same pool I train at) to young children. I really enjoy doing this because it feels like I’m giving something back to the sport. I am extremely thankful to everyone who’s helped to get me to where I am, and to help other young children start their own swimming careers feels like my way of returning the favour.

The wavy roof caused problems for backstrokers during the National Swimming Champs

How many calories do you need to take on board during training? What kind of foods do you need to eat and what do you have to avoid?

I don’t count calories when it comes to keeping an eye on my diet, however I tend to have quite a structured way of making sure I ensure I get enough fuel for my body to keep up with the hard work. I eat a lot of carbohydrates at lunchtime which helps to make sure I have high energy levels for the evening sessions. The second priority for me is to make sure my body gets enough protein, which helps to make sure my muscles don’t get broken down. I eat a lot of white meat, chicken and fish and avoid any processed meats. I also avoid any kind of junk food, wherever possible. But once in a while I allow myself a small treat to keep myself happy! Staying hydrated is also an important part of my diet. Without being hydrated properly my body can’t perform to its best in training, and if I’m dehydrated I risk getting ill more often which is a disaster for training.

Do you have any tips for aspiring swimmers?

My biggest tip for young aspiring athletes is always to believe in your coach. No matter how hard they are making you work, you have to understand that the coach knows best, and the work being given to you is going to help you become the best you can be. As a young swimmer I didn’t have this belief in my coach and I wasn’t improving at all until I changed my way of thinking and started to work with my coach as opposed to fighting against him.

Finally, what do you like to do when you are not swimming?

When I need to relax I tend to get under a duvet and catch up on TV with my family, listen to music, or best of all just sleep! My training takes a lot out of me and I have to utilise my opportunities for rest as much as possible – without doing so my work in the pool wouldn’t be as effective!

Charlie Boldison: Fact File
Date of Birth: 28/07/92 (age 19)
Club: Barnet Copthall Swimming Club
Personal bests: 50m back – 26.33 seconds. 100m back – 56.20 seconds. 200m back – 2.00.98
Key achievements: Won Silver at the National Youth Championships in 200m back aged 17 and 18. Placed 4th in the Men’s Open 200m Backstroke at the National Championships when 18. Represented Team GB at the European Junior Championships in 2010 in Helsinki. In November 2011 represented England at the Canada Cup and won Bronze in the 200m Backstroke and Silver in the 50m Backstroke. In January 2012 represented Team GB at the Flanders Cup in Belgium and won Bronze in the 50m and 100m Backstroke.