There are few more imposing figures in British swimming than 6’4″ fly swimmer Steve Parry. The former European Junior Champion has stepped up to become one of Britain’s top senior swimmers with European Championship bronze medals for 200 fly both long and short course and a sixth place finish in the same event at last year’s Olympics. He also holds the British record with an impressive 1:56.34 to his credit. pullbuoy caught up with Steve in Brisbane where he is taking part in the Goodwill Games.
You spent several years training in America, how does it compare to this country?
I loved my time in the States and achieved many of the objectives I set out to. My swimming improved on a number of levels, I gained a degree in Marketing and Finance, and I believe most importantly picked up on some invaluable life experiences. However, I love England and always have. Granted I miss the sun on my back, yet feel that this is my home and best for my swimming career.
Did you find it strange being in an environment where collegiate sport is taken so seriously? You must be envious of the facilities they have over there
I was rather taken aback when I saw just how comprehensive their athletic program was. There is no expense spared, and every conceivable resource is on hand. England on the other hand concentrates more on quality rather than quantity due to economic restrictions. I feel that both systems work well, yet the size of athletic budgets in the US could really come in useful over here.
You train in the new Commonwealth Games pool in Manchester; many people have be critical of it as a competition venue, what do you think of it?
There have been some negative reports of the pool in Manchester, however I believe it is important to get all you can out of a facility. It will not matter how many seats, lanes, or cafeterias the pool has next year as long as we are swimming fast and we have a supportive crowd. We have home advantage and need to utilize this. Negative reporting on the pool is not going to make our swimmers faster.
Were you very disappointed not to make the world championships team?
Obviously there is disappointment in missing out. I consider myself a big part of the team and never really considered missing it. Yet, that is sport for you. It is punctuated with ups and downs and fortunately I have not had too many bad swims in my life. The whole experience has only made me hungrier for success next year!
You have an obvious rivalry with James Hickman does this help your swimming?
James and I have been going toe to toe since 1994. Since then we have both won the national 200 fly 4 times, which is probably a fair barometer for who was having the better season. I think it has helped us in the past having two top ranked swimmers from the same country, we just have to make sure that we keep going forward.
We’ve seen you competing in events other than fly at recent championships – is this a definite aim to shift away from being a fly specialist? or does it just help to keep you interested?
I have always done a number of events which may have stemmed from my time in the states, where on any particular day the coach would ask me to fill in on events that I may be needed for. I enjoy racing other events but will keep the butterfly as my main focus for international competition.
Who is your favourite swimmer and why?
There is no particular swimmer I would call my favourite. Like all people in life there are certain traits I admire in many individuals.
You’re currently training as a development officer for the ASA. Do you ever get sick of swimming?
Not at all, I just saw this position as an opportunity for me to give something back to a sport that has been so good to me over the years. Working with the ASA has given me a better insight into the workings of a governing body, and hopefully I can give them some view points from an athlete’s perspective.
What are your goals for the rest of the year?
Although I have a strong idea of my goals for the rest of the year I never like to discuss them with others. Goals should be a personal achievement. Having said that gold medals are obviously in there, although James may have something to say about that!
Do you agree with the selection policy for the European Short Course Championships which is skewed towards getting more youngsters into the team?
Absolutely, it will keep the old guys on their toes.
Do you enjoy racing or training best?
No contest. I am in this sport for the competing. I love putting myself on the line, determined not to be beaten. At the moment I am actually at the Goodwill Games where I am competing for the European team. My team mates include, Peter Van Den Hoogenband, Lars Froelander, Marcel Wouda, Inge de Bruin and many more. We are racing against teams from the US, Australia and a World All Star team.
Do you like to know what a training session is before you get in the water?
Dave Calleja always writes our sessions on computer and prints them out for us. So although we don’t know what were doing before we get to the pool, once there we can see the session in it’s entirety.
What do you drink from your sports bottle?
Fortunately, I am sponsored by PSP 22 which is ideal for training.
What percentage of your session is ‘legs only’?
15% approximately. Obviously very important for butterfly swimmers.
How much land work do you do? What sort of exercises and how often?
We have a comprehensive land training programme lead by Lars Humer, a New Zealander, who has recently been brought on board at Stockport Metro. We do weights, plyometrics, power training, comprehensive stretching, core strength work and medicine balls. We do some sort of land work everyday.
Do you ‘hate’ your coach sometimes?
Sometimes? I hate him all the time… No that’s not true it is important to have a good working relationship with your coach. If you both have the same goals and trust each other results will be achieved.
Do you also laugh with your coach?
Has Bill Sweetenham had any impact on the way you train?
Bill has been a great asset to British swimming and although hasn’t directly affected my training he has been a very positive influence.
Finally, if you had one piece of advice for an up and coming fly swimmer what would it be?
Change event!!! Just playing. It is of paramount importance to get the basics correct in the early years. Technique, technique, technique.