SWIMMING: 'I can't believe it'

This Is Wiltshire: Melksham swimmer Rachel Williams has been selected by Wales for the Commonwealth Games Melksham swimmer Rachel Williams has been selected by Wales for the Commonwealth Games

RACHEL Williams’ dream has become a reality as she comes to terms with the elation of making the Welsh squad for the Commonwealth Games.

The 20-year-old, from Melksham, will be packing her bags for Glasgow next month after being announced as part of Wales’ 23-strong swimming squad for the games on Tuesday, with Williams picked as part of the 4x100m freestyle relay quartet.

Williams, who trains at the University of Bath’s national centre for swimming, added a late boost to her selection bid with new personal bests in the 100m freestyle (57.10) and the 200m freestyle (2:03.19) at last weekend’s Cardiff International Open meet.

Now she is looking forward to taking on some of the best in the world after years of preparation paid off.

“I still can’t get my head around it all – it’s unbelievable and I’m still on cloud nine at the moment,” she told the Wiltshire Times.

“I hadn’t checked the squad and I was just training in the pool as normal on Tuesday. My friend came up to me and said ‘Rachel, you’re on the list’. I couldn’t believe it.

“This has been my dream since I was 15. I was 16 when the Dehli Games were happening (in 2010) and I knew that it was too soon for me that year and 2014 would be the one to aim for.

“It keeps you going when you set yourself a goal but when you achieve it, it’s something else.

“Relay isn’t something that happens very often at the top level but I’ve done it with some of the Welsh girls and the GB girls in the past, so I can’t wait to do it in Glasgow.”

Williams’ path to a Commonwealth Games spot has been far from straightforward, with the Melksham star forced to spend months out of the pool after developing glandular fever.

But the former Corsham School student kick-started her return to form with a five-medal haul at last year’s British Gas ASA National Championships.

Williams said: “It was right around the time that London 2012 was happening and it didn’t start to get better until October that year.

“I couldn’t train or compete and it’s so frustrating when you see everyone else improving whilst you’re stuck doing nothing.

“When I won my medals last August, that was when I finally felt back to my best and I’m so glad to have come through all that.”

Williams is set to compete in the British Gas International meet at the Manchester Aquatics Centre on June 24-28 before her final Commonwealth Games preparations begin in earnest.

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