Torfaen Dolphins swimmer Dylan Broom is looking forward to the opportunity to compete against athletes from across the Home Nations as the British Para-Swimming Winter National Meet heads to Swansea.
The long-course competition, hosted by Swim Wales at the Wales National Pool this weekend, is set to welcome a mix of athletes, ranging from those new to para-swimming, right through to several of the stars of the Tokyo 2020 pool.
For Dylan, who recently had his place on the British Para-Swimming’s World Class Programme (WCP) for 2022 confirmed, it means only a relatively short journey down the M4 from his training base in Torfaen to take place in a national-level competition.
“Preparations have been good since I got back into the pool for this season in September, it’s been a good block of training and I’ve been tapering into this meet for the last week,” said the 19-year-old.
“The pool's only an hour away from me so that’s really nice to not have to travel up the country, but it’ll be really nice to see all the other athletes travel down to Wales.”
Given the difficulties the swimming community faced with limited pool time and access during the various lockdowns, Broom is even more grateful for his positive preparations after recounting his frustrating predicament in the lead-up to key competitions earlier this year.
“At the start of lockdown I didn’t get fully
back in the water until around July, when Swim Wales opened up the pool in
Newport for elite athlete training, and then on the second lockdown I was going
back and forth to Swansea each day, only doing one session a day, six times a
week, which wasn’t really enough leading up to April [for BPSIM]. I’m hugely
grateful for the opportunities I had, I just wish I could have done more - but
because of the travel I was limited to that.”
The S14 swimmer has set himself some provisional targets for the meet this weekend too, as he bids for a spot to represent Wales next summer at the Commonwealth Games.
“The 200m Freestyle this weekend is an opportunity for me to put in a good time for consideration for the ‘Commies’ [in Birmingham next year], and I just want to use the 400m to see how fit I am really," he added.
“Representing Wales is something I really want to do. That’s why I’m focussing so much on the 200m Freestyle right now. Looking towards Paris, I’d like to challenge for a place in the 200m Individual Medley also, as with my coach we can see major improvements to be made.”
As part of the cohort selected on to the Podium Potential group of the WCP, continued support as he goes in search of those goals is something Broom is appreciative to receive, commenting:
“The World Class Programme supports me with my training, access to strength and conditioning and sport psychology among the many benefits that will help me.”
Advice and inspiration from those who have competed on the Paralympic stage has also been a factor in driving Broom’s motivation to succeed.
“Reece Dunn has given me advice once, me and Louis [Lawlor] are quite close and Jordan [Catchpole] is a good guy, so it’s pretty awesome to learn when I compete against them," said Dylan.
“I was looking at the [Paralympic] finals thinking 'jeez, these guys are quick!' The times were mad and fair play. It was really cool watching them and catching the highlights, and I know I’ve got plenty to work on before Paris comes around.”
For now, though, the goals start this weekend in Swansea at the British Para-Swimming Winter National Meet and Broom will be in good company for what is set to be a high-quality competition.