'The Golden Couple'

Sascha Kindred and Nyree Lewis, otherwise known as the 'golden couple' of disabled sport, are two of Great Britain's most successful paralympians of the last decade, amassing 20 Paralympic medals between them including an amazing 8 golds. I am the brother of Sascha and am tracking their progress from Athens 2004 to London 2012. Read about their journey to Paralympic Glory here!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Emma Patrick, The Interview

Well, as I mentioned earlier this week, I managed to get a few moments with Emma to ask her some questions about the Golden Couple. So here it is...

Name: Emma Patrick
Position: Coach (Leominster Kingfisher SC)
Lives: Hereford

You used to coach Sascha and Nyree for a while in Manchester. What's it like to have them back?
I coached Nyree and Sascha for two and a half years. During this time I went to the Sydney games as part of the GB team and I prepared them for the World champs in Argentina in 2002.
Nyree and Sascha were part of a group of swimmers in the high performance centre. They were by far the most committed and professional .

Although I was working full time for British Swimming as a disability Performance coach I had swimmers who were very high maintenance and therefore at times this took my time away from those who were working hard etc.

However the situation is completely different now. I do not work for British Swimming anymore and have another full time job which enables me to fit in my coaching role around it, and as I'm just coaching Nyree and Sascha, I feel the work is very much more specific to them and I can concentrate 100% on them.

Do you think it was it right to leave the Performance Centre?

Leaving the National Performance Centre could have been a bad decision for them, but with personal bests and World Records for both Sascha and Nyree recently, plus 2 British Records for Sascha, and a win over the World Record holder in the 50M Butterfly, this change has clearly been beneficial to them.

What do you put this down to?

Nyree and Sascha seem to be much happier and have settled very quickly in Herefordshire. They were the first two swimmers to be in a performance centre so after 6 years maybe the change as helped. The pool environment in Leominster is new and very light and airy and very much extreme to the pool in Manchester. The aquatic centre in Manchester is a great facility but after 4 years training in a downstairs pool with no windows and false lighting it can get you down after a while.

As you know, both Sascha and Nyree came back with a truck full of medals from Athens. Did you watch everything, and how did it feel knowing that your involvement in their training had helped get them there?
Obviously the fact they won medals in Athens is terrific. I do think Beijing will be very very different in terms of British Success. Beijing have already stated that they will not let any medals out of the country. I firmly believe that when anyone at this level who participates at major games such as these, not only needs to win a medal, but needs to place a high emphasis on swimming a personal best time and breaking world records etc. Obviously the nearer you are to your peak the more difficult it becomes.

Nyree and Sascha won medals but they themselves were not overjoyed with their performances in Athens

Sascha is 28, Nyree 26. How much more do you think they have in their locker before they retire?
If you had asked me that back in January I may have not been able to give you an answer. Then in April Sascha broke the World record in 200 IM by 2 seconds and has broken the British Record in 50 fly whilst also moving into the top two in the world for the event.

Nyree is getting back near to her world record in 100 Backstroke and broke a world record in 200 freestyle in Berlin a few weeks ago. This proves there is still room for improvement and a reason still to train and continue. Our training approach is about improving, getting faster and not about maintaining times.

In the short term, they have the World Championships in Durban, South Africa this year. How do you think their preperation is going for this, and are you doing anything specific to give them the best run up to this championship?

I have always believed in a high endurance based programme, particularly for swimmers who compete in various events from 200 Individual Medley, 400 freestyle to 50 butterfly. Testing has shown they have improved their Endurance Base so far as to say maybe they are more aerobic now than they have ever been.

We have done a lot of medley work and much more endurance work on no their number 1 stroke as well. If we can build on this and possibly have an even greater aerobic base, as we still have over 18 months to Beijing, then we know we have a larger plateau for the higher intensity work.

The preparation for the World Championship is going well but their move to Leominster is just part of the overall plan to Beijing. Myself, Nyree and Sascha know full well that Beijing games will be the toughest so far.

Forthe long term, what do you hope they can achieve in Beijing in 2008?
Their aim will be to break their own World Records, swim personal bests and maintain or better their rankings

And London 2012?
Lets get to Beijing first

Will you travel to Beijing?
I will definitely go to Beijing to watch the swimming.

Do you have any specific tips for kids with a disability who want to get into swimming?
Of course. Basically anyone who enjoys swimming and wants to progress competitively should go and investigate their local swim clubs. With London 2012 games in our own country that should be inspiring enough for younger talented swimmers. British Swimming have a very good system where they support and encourage athletes though the Start and Potential programmes.


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