When Molly Renshaw enters the water at the 17th FINA World Championships this weekend, her competitors should expect to face a different GB performer as the Mansfield swimmer believes she has a new-found mental toughness that bodes well for Budapest and beyond.
At Renshaw’s level, the difference in physical strength and conditioning between the top performers is so small that hundredths of a second are the crucial currency , making all the difference between winning and losing, between podium glory and lonely disappointment. Races then often come down to a swimmer’s mental toughness, self-belief and confidence and yet the brain is the most difficult and stubborn part of the body to train. Sheer persistence and gym work will only get you so far. Most of the progress made in becoming more mentally resilient and confident has to come from within. And fortunately for Molly, sponsored by Australian swimwear company Funkita, that is exactly what has happened.
“The preparations have gone really well for the Worlds,” she said. “In the past 12 months I’ve tried to work hard on just racing what is in front of me rather than think about whether it is or a semi-final or a final. I know that if I race at my best then the rest will take care of itself in terms of positions.”
Renshaw believes the reason she has become more self-assured is to do with her breakthrough 2016 successes, including performing creditably at the Rio Olympics and then winning the 200m breaststroke gold at the 2016 World Short Course Championships in Windsor, Canada in December. Renshaw recorded a 2:18.51 to become the first female English gold medallist at the championship since fellow Mansfield resident Rebecca Adlington in Manchester in 2008 and it is clear that 2016 could well be viewed as a turning point in her career.
“I’ve definitely matured a lot in the past 12 months and I put that down to competing in Rio,” she said. “The past year, especially since the Olympics, I’ve become a lot more grown up and I don’t get as nervous. It was such an amazing experience and it has given me more confidence and belief that if I race at my best then the results will come. Physically I’m the same but mentally I’m a lot stronger. I trust myself a lot more and don’t get as down on myself, I now think ‘I’ve got this’. I took so many positives from 2016 and that makes me want to strive further and achieve more in swimming.”
So what exactly has Renshaw done to help herself and what is now different to the swimmer of 12 months ago? She explains: “You just have to race what is in front of you. I know that if I race at my best then the rest will take care of itself in terms of positions. There is no point worrying about the outcome – just focus more on the race and give it everything. I just need to stick to my race-plans and that will get me to where I want to be. I trust myself.”
Renshaw also appreciates how amazing an opportunity she has been given to really strive for future success and is determined to seize all the chances that come with her position as one of Britain’s top swimmers.
“I’ve never been to Budapest but I’ve heard it’s beautiful and I can’t wait to get out and explore the city,” she added. “We recently went to camps in Thailand and Japan which were amazing and went really well, we trained hard and it was a lot of fun. We’re very lucky to get these kind of opportunities to see different places.”
There has never been any doubt about Renshaw’s physical preparations nor her dedication in both the gym and the pool; she has put in the hard yards, to ensure her body is in peak condition. Now, thanks to 2016, her mind is the same and if the Olympics was the start of something special, Budapest will hopefully see Renshaw take her swimming and her career to a completely new level.
Molly Renshaw is wearing Funkita swimwear. For more information check out https://www.simplyswim.com/