Captaining the IOM swimming team at the NatWest Island Games
On 23 June I travelled to Gotland, Sweden, for my fourth NatWest Island Games! At my first games in the Isle of Wight (2011) I was one of the younger swimmers on the Isle of Man team, this time I was the oldest – and I’m only 20! This in itself brought about more responsibility as I was appointed swimming team captain, a proud moment for me. Rather than having to just concentrate on my own swimming I was aware of the need to help and support the younger swimmers. It brought back memories from my first games when I was required to do lots of media interviews which is added pressure when you are at your first event of this type. But I was pleased to be able to help out the younger swimmers in both preparing for the competition and the media obligations. I was even thanked by the Isle of Man media for my assistance.
At each of my previous Island Games I have won various medals - going into these games I felt a bit of pressure. The swimming is run over a 4-day program with qualifying heats in the morning going into finals in the evening. The Gotland pool was only five lanes, so in order to get a centre lane for a final, it is important to qualify for a final in the Top 3 places.
Here’s a quick summary of my events and results:
- - Monday: 50m breaststroke Silver medal. 4 x 50m freestyle relay Silver medal (Isle of Man record).
- - Tuesday: 200m breaststroke Silver medal. 4 x 50m medley relay Gold (Island Games record and Isle of Man record).
- - Wednesday: 100m breaststroke Gold medal. 50m free 6th place. 4 x 100m Freestyle relay Silver medal.
- - Thursday: 100m free 4th (between 2nd and 5th place was 0.16s). 4 x 100m medley relay Silver medal. Mixed 4 x 50m freestyle relay Silver medal (Isle of Man record).
As you can see it was a busy few days for me and my team mates, but I was very pleased with the results, and for the Isle of Man to top the medal table, what an amazing achievement!
After a hard week of competing in Gotland, I returned to Loughborough to move house and continue training for the British Nationals which started on 25 July. There was no tapering going into Gotland (tapering is a reduction in training volume to enhance race performance) and my coach was keen to for me to train hard right through the week. I had good support with the team manager, coach and physio looking after me!
The British Nationals saw me compete in all three breaststroke events (50, 100 and 200m) at Ponds Forge, Sheffield. I reached the final in the 50m and 100m breaststroke where I came 6th & 8th and I also achieved 5 more consideration times for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
A big thank you to Microgaming for their continued support which has made all this possible.
For regular updates, follow me on Twitter - @LauraKinley1!
My third year at Loughborough University is certainly proving to be another busy one! After a short break home over the summer, I was back to Loughborough, but then headed straight off on a 10-day training camp in Majorca, Spain, where we accomplished 14 swim sessions and nine land sessions. And my parents still thought I was on holiday!?
The short course swimming season (September to December 2016) went really well, ending with me competing at the British Short Course Championships just before Christmas. My 50m breaststroke time ranked me 7th in Great Britain and I set a new Isle of Man record in the 100m – I was really pleased with my performance and it was a great end to the year.
Being back on the island for Christmas was lovely – over the two weeks I really enjoyed catching up with family and friends.
January was a really hectic month. I was straight back to exams early January, which was a bit stressful, but thankfully they went well, followed by two weekends of competitions. At the end of January I travelled to Belgium to compete in the Flanders cup in Antwerp. The standard of competition in Belgium was very high and I enjoyed having the opportunity to race 50m breaststroke alongside former Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte and multiple Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu (especially beating Hosszu in this race!!).
I was really happy with my performances and I came away with four Commonwealth Games consideration standards which was great for such an early stage of the long course season. The next weekend I competed in the Burns Meet at Ponds Forge in Sheffield, and this gave me the chance to compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle, as well as the sprint breaststroke events. Between studying and training, I don’t have a lot of spare time, however I managed to see my younger sister, Amy, when I competed, as she is now at Sheffield University.
Training is continuing to go well, increasing in intensity and the number of hours. This comprises eight pool, three gym and two circuit sessions per week, so it’s keeping me very busy! But I am loving it, and hopefully all the hard work is going to pay off in the remainder of the year.
I have a lot of events and competitions once again, but my main focus at the moment is the British Swimming Championships in April, and continuing to achieve Commonwealth Games consideration standards for Gold Coast 2018.
For regular updates, follow me on Twitter - @LauraKinley1!
How is it December already? Another year has passed and I’m back at Loughborough University for my second year studying Sports Science and Management. The past 12 months have flown by, and as I take the time to reflect and write this blog, I’m delighted to say it’s been a hugely successful one. My highlights include representing the Isle of Man at the 2015 Island Games in Jersey and finishing the first year of my degree with a first!
Since the start of the 2015/16 academic year, it’s been non-stop for me. In October I joined the Isle of Man swimming squad for the first round of the Arena League in Blackpool. It was the island’s first time competing in the premier division. Understandably it was a tough event, but we came a strong 7th place, and it was great to represent the island in two individual events and two relays.
Two weeks after the Arena League, I swam at the first Nova Centurion open meet at the new Harvey Hadden Sport Village in Nottingham. This event was more rewarding and I came home with a win in 200m breaststroke and a second and third place in the 100m and 50m respectively. With just a few days turnaround from Nottingham I managed to squeeze in a much welcomed trip home, albeit a fleeting visit for another competition!
During my short spell on the island I participated in the 2015 Isle of Man Swimming Championships, held the last weekend of October. I was delighted to win not one but all six events that I entered! I came top of the class for the 800m, 400m and 200m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke and the 100m individual medley, where I set a championship record in the 100m breaststroke. This event was not only great for me personally, but for the entire team. As part of the Douglas Club team, we won the mixed freestyle, mixed medley and ladies medley events! We also set championship records in all the relays and Isle of Man national records in both of the mixed relays; so a brilliant event all-round!
After a hectic month I am once again back into my routine of juggling studying with training for upcoming competitions before Christmas. I’m preparing for the Amsterdam LC Meet and the British Nationals, so plenty to keep me busy! Looking further to the future and what 2016 has in store, it should be another good year. What’s most exciting is that I have already achieved qualification times for the British National Championships, and I have the Olympic trials in April – possibly the most exciting part of the year! A lot of hard work ahead, but I wouldn’t want it any other way – I absolutely love what I do and I count myself lucky to be able to pursue my passion!
With plenty in the pipeline, I’ll be sure to keep you posted with how I get on!
Coping with injury
Facing injury is difficult for any sports competitor, and this was the exact case for me, when at the end of the first weekend of the Isle of Man Championships in November, I felt a sudden back pain. Immediately I knew I was facing an injury and the realisation was hard to digest. On the advice of Dr. Frank Vaughan (IOM Team Doctor) and Ruth Cooil (IOM Team Physio), I reluctantly and disappointingly pulled out of the second week of the Championships; naturally I was gutted.
As this was the first major injury I had ever endured, it was a worrying time for me. Dr. Vaughan advised that rest was crucial for me to recover, and of course I took his advice. I was able to continue with gentle training and by the beginning of December faced a big test by attending the North West Winter Championships.
Unaware of how my back would hold-up, I was so pleased with my performance; I achieved a Commonwealth Games consideration time in the heats of the 50m breaststroke event. After some deliberation I decided to withdraw from the finals to ensure that I didn’t risk any further strain on my back. Following this event, careful pool and land-based training, in addition to many sessions with Ruth, saw me return to full training by the middle of January. I was so delighted to be back in the pool!
I travelled to Sheffield at the end of January to compete in the Northern Zonal Championships where I achieved a further four Commonwealth Games consideration times – a solid performance. I’m thrilled that I was able to secure some really good times and perform well in this event; it’s given me a great boost of confidence. I really must take this opportunity to acknowledge Frank & Ruth for their help in my recovery and also IOM Sport Aid for ensuring that I could receive the necessary medical help required. Thanks to everyone’s hard work, I was back in the pool as quickly as possible and I am truly grateful! I must extend this thanks to Microgaming for their financial and moral support too.
Looking ahead, the immediate plans are hard training for the Scottish and British National Championships in April, which take place in Glasgow, and my A Levels in June (with a couple of University visits too!). Choosing a University is going to be a really big decision – but with all this to come it’s going to be a very exciting year! And of course, with only five months now until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow I have a challenging few months ahead of me. Time’s ticking away and I’m hoping all my hard work will result in selection for Team Isle of Man for this important event.
Following a hectic summer of competing, there have been just a few competitions for me in recent months. The main event has been the Robin Hood Level 1 Meet in Sheffield in October which provided another positive result for me; I won gold in all three breaststroke events for my age group!
After the meet, I travelled up with my mum, Rosemary, to Scotland where I trained for two days with the University of Edinburgh, providing an opportunity for me to train in the 50m Commonwealth pool. My experience in Edinburgh was invaluable and the coach and fellow athletes are extremely supportive. Hopefully I’ll have other opportunities to train there in the up-and-coming months.
As well as the benefits of being able to swim in a 50m pool, travelling up to Edinburgh also gave me a glimpse of what University would be like. I’m in my final year of school and soon I’ll be applying for Universities via UCAS. It’s a difficult decision to make; I need to find a University that will provide the support and facilities to be able to continue with my swimming.
At the end of October I attended the England Development & Profiling camp for the North West Region in Accrington. It was an intense day of swim and land training, nutritional advice, physio screening & psychology work. It was a hard day but extremely worthwhile and I am hoping to receive notification soon about the next part of this programme.
November started as a quieter month for competitions and I’ve enjoyed being home and getting stuck in to my training. At the end of the month there is the Isle of Man Championships over two weekends so that will be a busy time for me.
Outside of the pool, I was very sad that my Nana passed away; she has always been so supportive of me and I will miss her very much, but I know she would want me to continue to do the Island proud. On a happier note I was delighted to be shortlisted for the Young Achiever of the Year Award for the Isle of Man Newspapers Awards for Excellence, having been nominated by Microgaming, one of my sponsors. It’s always a little daunting and nerve-wracking to be shortlisted, but on the other hand it’s such a privilege to be considered.
Looking ahead I have the North West Winter Championships in early December and the Isle of Man team will be taking part in the final meet of the Arena League the following week, then of course we’re into 2014 which I am hoping will be a really exciting year for me.
Oh and of course, I can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas! I’m very excited to be spending time with the family and having just a few days off over the festive period.
A golden summer
The last few months have been busy to say the least; here’s an overview of what I’ve been up to.
Within a few days of finishing my AS Level exams in June, I was competing in the British National Championships in Sheffield. I was the only Manx swimmer in attendance; it was a great experience to be a part of a World Championship qualifying event.
July started with the Island Games, one of the biggest events in the calendar. Held in Bermuda, known as the “Jewel of the Atlantic”, it was an unforgettable experience.
Bermuda provided me with my first opportunity to compete in an outdoor pool. The swimming team, comprising 10 competitors, travelled out six days before competition started, to train daily, allowing us to acclimatise and familiarise ourselves with swimming outdoors. We were fortunate to have with us physiotherapist Ruth Cooil (alongside our coach and team manager), who was invaluable in helping with our preparation and recovery.
The endless training and hours in the pool all seemed worthwhile; spanning the various events I entered, I came home from the Island Games with five medals! I was really pleased with my results; the highlight for me was winning gold in the 200m breaststroke, recording a time of 2:32.60, and in turn setting a new Island Games record. In all I secured four Commonwealth Games 2014 consideration times and I remain hopeful that my performance puts me in a good position to be selected for the Isle of Man team in Glasgow. The final selection will be in spring next year.
My Dad, Juan, was also part of the Isle of Man Island Games team; he won a bronze medal in the Men’s Team Triathlon, a proud moment for the Kinley family. Fortunately, Mum and my two sisters were able to travel out to Bermuda and experience the games with us. They are a great support and I should probably take this opportunity to thank them! I’d also like to extend my thanks to my sponsors Microgaming, Isle of Man Sports Aid and the Cavendish Trust. In fact, during the games, Roger Raatgever from Microgaming, who was a member of the triathlon team, was pool-side and cheering me on. I was delighted to be able to show that their assistance with funding and moral support was paying off.
So, following a hectic July, August arrived with an invite to attend the England Performance Profiling & Development programme later in the year and I also had the chance to train with the City of Manchester squad in the 50m Manchester Aquatics pool. Access to a 50m pool is really important for me as we don’t have a 50m pool on the Island so it is difficult to train for major events. I am hoping to have the chance to do a lot more 50m training in the next few months to help me prepare for Glasgow.
Following my trip to Manchester, I had a quieter two weeks on the training front. Now I’m focusing heavily on my new season training; I’m juggling my final year at school with at least 18 hours of training a week. Oh and in between this I manage to squeeze in a night in with my friends! I suppose it’s not what you would call an average teenage lifestyle, but I love it and hopefully all my hard work will pay off!
Sports: it runs in the family
Laura Kinley’s passion and talent for sport must have been inherited from dad Juan; the expression ‘it runs in the family’ is certainly apt for this talented duo. Juan a triathlete and Laura a swimmer are both top-performing athletes in their respective fields. Immersed in a hectic training schedule, both dad and daughter train accumulatively 30 hours a week! It’s no wonder both athletes were chosen to represent the Isle of Man at the recent NatWest Island Games Bermuda 2013.
So how did it all begin? Laura began swimming at a young age having been advised that it would assist with her acute asthma. It wasn’t until Laura reached 14 that she started competing seriously. Showing an abundance of talent, Laura won four medals in one of the first competitions she entered during the 2011 Island Games. At just 15, Laura was the only Isle of Man swimmer to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Trials in London.
Meanwhile Laura’s dad is an all-round athlete. He has competed in six Island Games initially for badminton and now in triathlon. It was in 2000 when Juan began training for triathlons, following a bad knee injury whereby as part of his physiotherapy rehabilitation he was encouraged to cycle and swim. Proving to be a natural at both, Juan’s triathlon triumphs include winning a bronze in the 2003 Island Games.
To compete to the highest standard, Juan and Laura take on a heavy training programme. Essential to their training schedule is family support from Rosemary (Laura’s Mum) and sisters Amy and Emily. In the middle of studying for her A-Level’s, Laura manages to fit in 18 hours of training, combining swimming and gym sessions. Thanks to assistance from Microgaming, Isle of Man Sport Aid, and the Cavendish Scholarship some of Laura’s training takes place off-Island so she can gain access to a 50m pool, the standard pool length for most competitions. Juan trains 12 hours a week spanning the three disciplines of swimming, cycling and running. Juan fortunately can fit his training around Laura’s schedule, particularly for swimming. Both as competitive as each other, Juan has had to concede that Laura is the better swimmer in the family, however, he remains upbeat that he can win in both a cycling or running race!
With training of course comes competition and Laura takes part in events spanning the UK. Most recently Laura competed at the British National Championships achieving four Commonwealth Games 2014 consideration times. Just days later she went on to represent the North West at the English School’s Championships, winning three Gold and one Silver medal. Following his daughter’s success, Juan recently triumphed in the TT Triathlon 2013, taking on the short-course event of a 1.2 mile swim, 37.7 mile bike and a 7 mile run.
Like father, like daughter, the hard work really appears to be paying off!