pullbuoy female swimmer of 2002 – sarah price

To the uninitiated, the north London suburb of Barnet might not look like a hotbed of swimming talent but the Barnet Copthall club has a history of producing outstanding swimmers, and backstrokers in particular. Former internationals and British Record holders Martin Harris and Kathy Read came from the club and that tradition is being maintained by Sarah Price, currently the undoubted queen of British backstroke swimming. 2002 was quite a year for Sarah, who won two Commonwealth golds and a European short course title, wins which prompted you to vote her the Pullbuoy Swimmer of 2002.

You probably made your big break through internationally in 2001, so you must be really pleased with the way that 2002 went for you?
I was very pleased with the way 2002 went, with 4 Commonwealth medals and a few Commonwealth and British records as well. It was also nice to win the European SC for the second year in a row unshaved and unrested. But I’ve also learnt a lot about my skills this year and what my weaknesses are – I’m still working on them all the time

Have you found yourself under more pressure with the added expectation? How have you found coping with it?
I don’t mind the pressure because no one can put me under pressure more than myself, and I now know how to deal with that. Also I love the hype and support everyone gives me!

What was your highlight of 2002?
Probably my 2 golds at Commonwealths and swimming faster in each round was a big step forward for me

The relief shows as Sarah celebrates her 200m gold in Manchester. Photo: SWPix

You said before the games that you were aiming to swim sub 2:10 in the Manchester final – were you disappointed not to manage that or were you just pleased with a “job well done” in winning gold?
I was ecstatic that I won but also disappointed with the time. I mis-paced the race and as I’m still really a learner at the event I still don’t really know the best way to swim it. We’re getting there though, I know I have the capability of going sub 2.10 it just didn’t happen in Manchester but it will come. The main thing was the win – that was good

You always said that the Commonwealth 50m was a bonus event for you, but in hindsight are you a little frustrated with the programme in Manchester? If you were completely fresh would you have fancied your chances of a third gold?
It would have been nice for them to think about the programming because they could have put the 50 on another day but as it goes I still swam well and managed a British record and a bronze so I was pleased with that. I don’t train for the 50 and only really have the right components for the 100 and 200 so the 50 bronze was a great bonus

Were the Games everything you expected? Or did the atmosphere in the pool take you a bit by surprise?
The Commonwealth games were fantastic the English and especially all the locals did us proud. The way the pool was turned around was fab and the atmosphere was amazing. I personally thought it was better than the Olympics. If you were there on Saturday night…that was something I will never forget; I heard the crowd through the whole 200m final and I really felt they were swimming it with me!!! The whole week was very special to me and by far the best games that I have been to

Here we go again: Sarah on the way to retaining her European 200m title. Photo: SWPix

Your short course gold in Riesa must give you a lot of confidence given the background to it; after all your 200 winning time was only 0.5s down on your 2001 time?
Yes the win in Riesa was pleasing as I was wearing a normal costume and was unrested, unshaved and untapered so that’s always a confidence boost

The ASA made a big deal about Bill’s policy on bodysuits/resting/shaving etc. While to people on the outside the difference between the GB team’s suits and everyone else’s was fairly obvious, was there really that big a difference in approach behind the scenes?
As far as I was aware we were the only country or at least one of the very few that were doing it tough! Although it’s not enjoyable whilst you are doing it in those conditions, the benefits later on are far better. I have grown in confidence already from the championships

We’ve spoken before about the depth in women’s backstroke in this country; Are you constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure you stay number 1? What do you make of the up and coming swimmers such as Stephanie Proud or Karen Lee?
I think one of the reasons why we are so strong is the constant home competition. It’s fierce but friendly and healthy. Stephanie had a great world cup series and Karen had a good Euro SC so with them and of course Helen [Don Duncan], Katy [Sexton], Jo [Fargus] and me I can see backstroke in this country having a good solid future which is great for British swimming

What are your aims for 2003? What do you hope to get out of the Barcelona World Championships?
My main target is the worlds in Spain and I have times and aims for them but I am not able to reveal them yet! Sorry! All I can say is that they are good and positive. Thank you for the support and encouragement you and all your readers have given me, please carry it on! Thanks and have a great 2003!