So what’s it like being a SportsAid athlete? #MyMiles With is a series aimed at giving YOU an insight into the lives of the next generation of British sporting heroes, and encouraging you to keep them company by taking part in the #MyMiles Challenge during SportsAid Week. This time it’s the turn of Roan Brennan, an aspiring para swimmer, to take you into his world.
“Monday is a 4.30am wake up for early morning swimming training. That is a 90-minute session just purely in the pool. That’s from 5.30-7am and then after that, I’ll drive from the pool to my Grandma’s house, and I’ll have breakfast there, and then she drives me to school. After my day at school, I come home and I have an hour to do my homework, and then from 6-8pm I have a two-hour swim session.”
“I actually get a bit of lie-in on Tuesday morning. I have a 6.30am wake-up for school, and then in the evening I do have another hour-and-a-half swimming session from 5-6.30pm. After my swimming session I’ll have a 30-minute drive home. When I get home, first it will be dinner - basically to put back on what I’ve just burnt off - and then from 7.30-9pm I’ll do some schoolwork. I normally go to bed at about 10pm, and I like to have an hour just relaxing, so I’m not too overworked before I go to bed.”
“Wednesday is another day where I don’t have a swimming session in the morning, so it’s another 6.30am wake-up for school. At school, in the afternoon I go to the gym. I use that for about an hour, and then after I’ll go straight from school to the pool. I have a two-hour swim session from 4.30-6.30pm, and then again it’s dinner, homework, and an hour of relaxation before bed.”
“Thursday is basically a repeat of Monday, where I have an early swimming session, then go to school, and then I have a two-hour swimming session from 6.30-8.30pm. That’s what I describe as the hardest day of the week because I have an early wake up and then another long session in the evening. Those early mornings, it very much depends on the day, some days I’m quite energised for it but sometimes I really don’t want to get out of bed. It can feel like a chore, but you’ve just got to get through it at the beginning, but as you go through you get used to it.”
“Friday is very similar to Thursday. I’ll have a swimming session in the morning, and just an hour session in the evening - so it’s not quite as bad. Because I’m sixth form I don’t normally have a full five-hour day, and normally on Friday I get to leave an hour early which is nice, because other days I’m there until the end. A-levels are a big jump on from GCSEs and sometimes I do have a lot of homework, so sometimes I do have to sacrifice my lunch times or free periods to do the work. I’m currently studying History, Geography and Business.”
“Saturday is my only rest day, to be honest. I just use that for homework and relaxing. I get a nice lay in until about 8.30am, and then from about 10am-12pm it’s purely just relaxation. I’ll play FIFA or watch a bit of Netflix, and then from about 1-4pm I’ll do homework or revision. After that, it is just relaxing again and making sure I’m ready for Sunday. On Sunday, I have a two-hour session in the morning from 6-8am and then after that I’ve got an hour in the gym as well. Sunday morning’s quite an extreme thing to go into so you’ve got to have a nice relaxing Saturday to gear you up for that.”
Quickfire Q&A with Roan
How many hours do you train in total during an average week?
“Roughly 18-20 hours a week.”
What are the first three words that come into your head when training has gone well?
“Pride, tiredness and motivated.”
What are the first three words which come into your head when you think about a bad day?
“Disappointment, resilience and reflection.”
What motivates you the most?
“I’d say probably Paralympic gold - it’s something I’ve dreamt of for years now. Representing my country would be a huge honour, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages. Also, I just want to constantly improve myself as an individual.”
How best do you measure your progress?
“Competition to competition, you’re looking at the times you do. My best event is the 100m freestyle, and if I’m constantly decreasing my personal best time it shows that I’m improving. Also, if I’m feeling physically faster in the water in training, or I can see my technique is improving, it’s a good measure of progression. Last year I won gold at the British Championships - something I’d never done before - so yearly I want to improve on that.”
How do you balance the demands of training at busy times in your life?
“Building a schedule is completely important. I couldn’t do what I do off the cuff, I’ve got to schedule out my time. If that’s putting it in Word or Excel, that’s what I’ll do. It’s just about staying calm, if you panic about doing a piece or work or training, you just need to allocate your time properly.”
What are the biggest sacrifices you feel you have to make?
“There’s quite a lot, especially when you’re giving a lot of time to a certain sport and it’s essentially every day. When my mates are going to something or there’s a party, I’d choose to miss the party because training is more important. Generally, I’d say it’s time with my friends outside of school. That person I’m trying to beat has probably gone to training, and I can’t let someone else have an advantage - I’ve got to be pushing.”
What food and drink products do you always wish you could have?
“As a swimmer, you’re already burning loads of calories. I’m quite open with what I can have. I quite like cheese, so it would probably be that, and also chocolate milk.”
What is a work-out or session you enjoy doing?
“I’m a sprinter, so I’d say 25m power sets, stuff where you’re going fast for a short distance.”
Which social media accounts can people follow you on?
SportsAid Week 2023 takes place from Monday 6 March to Sunday 12 March! Join us for a dedicated week of fun and awareness-raising based around theme of accessibility and inclusion. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk.