After a breakthrough season in 2017 where he made the team for the FINA World Championships, Mark Szaranek carried on where he left off this year, winning his first international medals.
Representing Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, the man from Kirkcaldy set a stunning new 400m Individual Medley personal best of 4.13.72 to win silver. Combining with his teammates the 23 year old then bagged 4x200m Freestyle Relay bronze, to cap off a great meet for the British swimmers.
Like so many of his British teammates, Szaranek was back in action at the European Championships in Glasgow, a special moment having not come of age last time a major meet visited his home country in 2014. This time round the medley swimmer was fifth, rounding out a great year.
Now back from his training base in Florida, Mark is relishing spending the Christmas period back at home in Scotland.
“It’s always nice to be home for Christmas, to get some real cold weather and because I get to see my friends and family. We’ve got everyone in one place for the first time in a while, as I’m back from America and my Dad is back from Ireland. I’m really looking forward to it.
“I think our Christmas Day is probably similar to most peoples – a leisurely morning where I try not to eat too much so I can save myself for the Christmas dinner, which we usually eat early in the afternoon.”
Whilst Ben Proud admitted his family sometimes opt for goose over turkey, Mark took more of a traditional stance.
“Turkey all the way! We have a very typical Christmas Day dinner – turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. I’ll usually try and save room for a couple of desserts! Everything gets finished though – if there’s any turkey left my brother will eat it and if there is any leftover veg I’ll eat it or my Dad will. We’ll clean the house pretty good!”
New Year’s Eve is a particularly big day in Scotland, with Hogmanay celebrations taking place across the country. So how will Mr Szaranek be letting his hair down?
“I’ll probably spend it with my family. We might go through to Edinburgh as I’ve never done Hogmanay there before and it’s supposed to be pretty good.
“Once we’ve brought the New Year in though it will be back into training to get back into shape ready to race at trials and then the World Championships. I’ll take a couple of days off but nothing more than that – I like to just keep ticking over.”
So what about New Year’s resolutions?
“I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, as for me there’s no reason to wait for a certain date to make a change. If you want to make a change in your life then start immediately, but having said that there are some changes I’d like to make, but you don’t have to wait until January first to make them.”
Most people have a pretty long wish list from Santa, but that isn’t the case for individual medley man.
“I actually don’t know just yet – I like to keep him on his toes and keep him guessing!”Want to see Mark in action in the UK in 2019? Then keep your eyes peeled for tickets to the British Swimming Championships, which will be on sale soon.