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Susie Rodgers MBE Paralympic Swimmer

by Alexandra Parren
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Susie Rodgers Gold Medal Winner Paralympics

Photo courtesy of the IPC

Susie is a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer and had an amazing performance at the games in Rio in 2016. She talks to Sundried about being a competitive athlete and what's next on the horizon for her.

Have you always been into sport?

Yes, I have always enjoyed swimming and practising various sports since I was young. My family were always pretty active and I was always fairly competitive so I guess it was no surprise that I would go into sport in the future in a competitive way!

What prompted you to enter the world of competitive swimming?

I entered a couple of national level competitions at University and realised that I had a talent for swimming. Previously I had only raced able-bodied competitors and so I was surprised when I went to competitions and seemed to be competing well against other competitors. I didn't pick up sport until I had worked a few years though, so I had a gap and then came back to it with the aim of heading to London 2012 if I could make the team.

What’s been your best race to date?

I would say without a doubt winning my Gold in the S7 50m butterfly in Rio in 2016. There is no feeling in the world like winning a medal for your country at a Paralympic Games and hearing the national anthem. I looked at my mum and dad in the audience from where I was standing and just felt so grateful that they could share the experience with me. They knew the absolute darker moments of illness and injury that I went through and they supported me all the way, so my win was for them as well as for me!

What was going through your mind when competing at the Paralympic Games?

I was excited when I first arrived in Rio. For London, my first games, I was absolutely terrified! I felt the pressure and it scared me! For Rio, I was prepared, I was relaxed. I was observing everything and being "present". That helped me hugely to achieve what I did. When I walked out for my 50m butterfly race in Rio I just thought, "this is my stage and I am a performer and I am going to give the crowd something to enjoy!"

What has been your proudest moment?

Every time I have had the fortune to stand on the podium has been an absolute pleasure, but winning Gold in my individual race has been one of the happiest and proudest moments of my life.

How do you overcome setbacks?

Focus on the small things you can do daily to get yourself back to where you need to be. I often get lost in the bigger picture, but I try to bring myself back to where I am now. Being "present" helped me immensely in Rio - taking in my environment, helping others, talking to others... It is all a strategy to distract your mind. I practice meditation regularly. I suffer sometimes with anxiety - ever since my final year at Uni - and I now know you can bring calm immediately with yoga for the mind.

What would you say to someone with a disability who is looking to enter competitive sport for the first time?

Absolutely go for it! Try things out, make mistakes, learn from them and have a goal but keep shifting it and moving it forwards. Once you reach your goal, set another one or try something different! Competitive sport gave me so much, so I can only recommend it!

What are your goals for the next year?

Finding my new path! I have left competitive sport now and have officially retired. That chapter has closed, but there is now a whole world of opportunity out there and I am extremely excited but nervous too! I am studying again and doing lots of different things, so hopefully the next path will become clear as I move forwards onto my next goal! I also am developing a bit of a passion for open water swimming and am returning to scuba diving. I love the sea, so I am happy to move from indoor to outdoor swimming!

Who do you take your inspiration from?

My family. They are my rocks and I owe them a huge amount for all their support. I am inspired by people who achieve great things in whatever their field may be, but who do so in a humble way, without expectation.

What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

It is such a great idea to develop ethically sourced clothing. To recycle ingredients and to produce such high-quality items of clothing is brilliant! I am extremely environmentally conscious, the earth is such an incredible place both on land and in the sea. If I can support any organisation that is actively trying to make the planet better for future generations, I will get involved 100%. I love the features of the quick-drying properties of the fabrics - and the fact that the clothes are stylish too!

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