Mexico City 2017: Sophie Pascoe switches things up

New Zealand swimmer incorporates other sports into her Worlds training regime.

Close up of swimmer doing breast stroke Sophie Pascoe is a nine-time Paralympic champion © • Getty Images

In preparation for the Mexico City 2017 World Para Swimming Championships, New Zealand’s swimmer Sophie Pascoe has chosen to incorporate other sports, including boxing, climbing, and gymnastics, into her training regimen.

Despite finding her new routine a challenge, the 24-year-old enjoys her time away from “looking at the black line.”

“These sports have kept me stimulated out of the pool, and also increased my strength in other areas of my body. This increased strength has helped me maximise my pool sessions,” she explained.

Pascoe’s preparation for Mexico City 2017 saw her return to her hometown of Christchurch after a long time away, as the largest city in New Zealand’s South Island did not have a 50m pool for Paralympic training prior to Rio 2016.

“Not only is this year about being focused on my training at home, but also about balancing life outside of the pool with other interests such as academic studies," she said.

With the World Championships being held at altitude this year, Pascoe was concerned about how it would affect her races.

“I have had six years’ experience of training at high altitude prior to most of my pinnacle events. But racing back-to-back daily in this environment will provide a challenge.”

Starting young

But the Kiwi swimmer is no stranger to new environments. At age 15, she was New Zealand's youngest ever athlete going into Beijing 2008.

“It was a little surreal as I qualified unexpectedly, but proved to myself age wasn't an issue on the world stage.”

Pascoe won three goals and a silver at Beijing, making her the youngest New Zealander to win a medal. Since then, she has swum at three Paralympic Games – her latest endeavour being Rio 2016. Her success there took her total medal haul to 15, including nine golds, making her New Zealand’s most decorated Paralympian.

“I believe through competing at such a high level and travelling early on, it has given me real growth into where I am at today in my swimming career," she said.

Rio also saw Pascoe break her own world record for the 200m individual medley SM10 with a blistering 2:24:90, which she had previously set in London 2012.

“It’s always a great feeling to do a personal best time and also realise it’s a world record, especially when it takes four years to accomplish.”

“However, even though I gave 100% to the race, I felt that it wasn't well raced. I guess that’s me being a perfectionist, so I know there is definitely more to work on and improvements that can be made.”

Instead of setting her sights on a podium finish at Mexico City, Pascoe simply hopes for a strong finish in the pool.

“My goal is to achieve as close to or better than my personal best times, although I know it will be challenging with the lack of oxygen.”

The Mexico City 2017 World Para Swimming Championships will take place from 30 September-6 October.