Olympic hopeful Maisie still has Games in her sights

Back in March, Crawley Swimming Club member and Olympic hopeful Maisie Thornton was getting ready for British Championships and was hopeful of qualifying for the European Juniors.

But then Covid-19 and lockdown hit.

Both events were cancelled, leaving the 18-year-old disappointed - especially as the British Championships acted as an Olympic trials event, and when the event is run in April 2021, she may be too old to qualify for the European Juniors - but that is currently being reviewed.

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But Thornton is still hopeful she can qualify for the Olympics.

Maisie Thornton

At the British swimming championships the youngster, who lives in Brightling, East Sussex, was meant to be participating in the 200 and 400 IM and the 100 and 200 Fly.

Thornton said: “I was hoping to qualify for the European juniors in 200 fly.

“I had a high chance of qualifying for the European juniors because I am currently the fastest swimmer in the 17-year age group for 200 fly in Great Britain, which was the oldest age that could qualify for the event.

Maisie (left) at winter nationals; Alys Thomas is right

“I had strong competition from a few swimmers in the age group group below who has posted slightly faster times.”

A maximum of three swimmers would have been selected to participate in the European Juniors subject to meeting the qualifying time.

This event would have taken place in Aberdeen at the end of July.

The British Swimming Championships, incorporating the Olympic trials, has been rescheduled for April 2021.

Thornton is currently ranked number one in her age group (17 years) for the 200m butterfly in Britain.

She won the 200m butterfly at the winter regional championships in 2019 and won the county championships in 2020 but the season was cut short.

She had qualified for the Olympic trials in the 200m butterfly and the 400m individual medley, before they were postponed.

Crawley Swimming Club head coach Will Philpot believes she can go all the way and is a joy to work with.

He said: “Maisie has a brilliant work ethic, great technique, 100 per cent commitment and a supportive family.

“These are all really important factors for ‘making it’ in high-performance swimming and I absolutely believe she has the potential to go all the way.

“I’m very proud to work with her.

“She’s the kind of swimmer every coach wants to work with, she gives it her best effort in the pool every day and she is very focused on her goals.

“When we achieve something we’ve been working towards, we both enjoy the success.

“But we both have the mindset of ‘okay, what’s next?’”

Thornton has been swimming since she was four years old and pre-lockdown was training 15 hours a week at K2 Crawley, plus two hours of gym work.

Thornton said: “I first started to become serious about the sport and swim competitively at the age of 12 where I qualified for my first counties and regionals.

“I was 14 when I qualified for my first British Summer Championships.”

And Thornton says Philpott has helped her progress since joining the club.

She said: “Since moving to Crawley Swimming Club, my coach Will, is incredibly enthusiastic and has helped me progress in my swimming career to my current level, along with the facilities provided by Crawley Swimming Club.

“I aspire to be like swimmers such as Alys Thomas and Aimee Wilmott, who are very passionate towards swimming, despite facing many challenges in their career.

“When I become a senior swimmer, my aspirations is attend a top university and strive to be one of the top swimmers.

“The best part about being a member of Crawley Swimming Club is the facilities they provide as as well as having passionate and enthusiastic coaches that believe in you, and having other dedicated and strong swimmers around me.”

Thornton and Philpott are keen to pass on some advice to youngsters who are looking to get into swimming.

Philpott said: “Get the little things right daily. Take the opportunities in front of you to practice what you need to improve.

“Don’t wait for a technique session on turns to work on those, when you have hundreds of chances in every training session.

“Listen to and work with your coaches, and just keep putting the work in.”

Crawley Swimming Club got back to training two weeks ago following a long break.

But Philpott appreciates that not all clubs have been able to get back in the water – and he is supporting the national #OpenOurPools campaign.

Swim England has called on its members, clubs,

coaches, teachers, swim schools, swimmers and facility operators to back its campaign. They urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reopen facilities across the country as soon as possible.

Philpott said: “I am very concious a lot of swimmers and coaches and clubs do not have a pool and with that we will continue to support the Open Our Pools campaign so everyone can get back in the water.”

For all the ways you can get incolved, visit https://www.swimming.org/swimengland/open-our-pools/