Performance Squad Athlete, Zara Williams, took some time out of her busy training schedule before National Speed Championships to give us an insight into her passion for Lifesaving Sport. 

How did you get started in Lifesaving Sport?

I have been a competitive National swimmer since I was 10 years-old but I was starting to get bored spending hours just swimming up and down the pool. I am still a National swimmer and appreciate that to achieve this level I have to train regularly and swim lots! Crawley Swimming Club have a water polo team and some of my friends suggested trying water polo, which I did for a while. I was good at water polo, being quick in the water and strong, and competed in a couple of leagues. The water polo coach is Gary Lee, who also happens to be the coach for Crawley Town Lifesaving Club, and he suggested I tried lifesaving (which I didn’t really know anything about as a sport). He thought I would enjoy the challenge and that I had the right skills to do well and I have never looked back. In my very first competition (the 2010 Speeds) I achieved a British Under 17 record in the 100 obstacles which really surprised me, that just made me want to get better and break more records. My swimming times have improved as well so taking up lifesaving sport helped my swimming too.

What is your favourite thing about being on the Performance Squad?

I enjoy training with the top lifesavers in Great Britain and I get to practice various techniques that I learn from different people – both other lifesavers and the coaches.

Sum up in one word how it feels to break a record?

Amazing!

Who is your role model?

Shane Williams. I’ve always been a rugby fan and I grew up watching him play.

What is your top tip?

Rhianna has a tattoo – Never a failure, always a lesson. I like this motto. I believe that you should never be afraid of failure. You won’t always be able to succeed in what you do, the first time you try something. You may have to fail at it in order to get better. You just have to use it as a lesson. The first time I competed at the Speeds I failed to finish some of the events as I’d never tried them before. It was very frustrating for me but I realised that I couldn’t always get something right, first time, especially without a lot of practice. At the European Junior Championships in Denmark 2011 I got disqualified in my best event, the 50m manikin carry, after coming 2nd in the race. I struggled to get over being disqualified when I’d achieved such a good time, but I learnt from it and came back stronger and now look where I stand – I now have the quickest time in the world in this event.

What is your lifesaving sport highlight?

My highlight has got to be recording the best time in the World in the 50m manikin carry at the Welsh Nationals in February 2014. I knew going into the race, that even if I did go that fast, it could not count as a World record, but I proved to myself that I could do it and I can’t wait now to compete in the World Championships and hopefully officially break the world record.