COMMONWEALTH GAMES: Experience of a lifetime
RACHEL Williams says that picking one memorable moment of her Commonwealth Games bow over another is simply an impossible task as she looks back on the most ‘incredible’ experience of her life.
The 20-year-old, from Melksham, was initially selected in the Wales team for the 4x100m freestyle relay but in the end, Williams’ Commonwealth debut saw her hit the pool at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre in six different events.
The highlight of the Wiltshire star’s Glasgow campaign saw her reach the semi-finals of the women’s 100m backstroke but Williams, who is remaining north of the border until Sunday’s closing ceremony, says that she has savoured every second of the Games.
“Going to the Commonwealth Games has been my dream my whole life and every single moment has been an experience and a half,” said Williams, who trains at the University of Bath’s national centre for swimming.
“Everything about it has just been incredible and it’s probably been the best experience of my life.
“Swimming in front of a crowd like that was just amazing and I’m really proud of what I achieved – I was chuffed with every time that I got.
“I went there thinking ‘don’t worry about anyone else and just do your thing’ and that’s exactly what I did.
“I did qualify for the team in the 4x100m relay but I knew that I was good enough to do other events and in the week before the Games, my head coach (Martyn Woodroffe) took me out of the 4x100 freestyle relay and put me in for all of the others.
“People that know me know that I’m used to being really busy when I go to events, so I wasn’t worried about it at all – I was just turning up every day, ready to do what I was told.
“Wales had a target of six medals in the pool and we got seven. Everyone has done so well and it’s been amazing to be a part of it.” Williams finished sixth (1:02.48) in the semi-finals of the women’s 100m backstroke after coming fourth (1:02.98) in her heat.
She also competed in the heats of the 200m backstroke, where she was tenth-fastest overall (2:16.53), 200m freestyle (2:01.84) and 200m individual medley (2:17.10).
Williams stepped away from the 4x100m freestyle relay team but swam in the Welsh quartet’s ultimately unsuccessful 4x200m freestyle final as well as completing the opening leg for her country in the 4x100m medley heats.
The Melksham ace was quick to pay tribute to her family for the part they played in getting her to the Commonwealths, particularly after a bout of glandular fever forced her to spend months out of the pool in 2012.
Williams said: “My mum and dad Jacqui and Alan came to watch four days of the swimming and so did my aunt Sian – I was looking to see where they were straight away every time I came out to the pool.
“It was damazing to have them there and I’m so grateful for how they’ve supported me in getting here, especially after what happened when I was ill.”
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