So tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from?
My name is Susie Rodgers. I’m from the UK, I live in London, work for the British Council, and I’m also a swimmer and I’ve just been selected to represent this country as a Paralympic swimmer in the 2012 Games.
OK, great, so you’re on the Paralympic swimming team. Can you tell us which events you are going to be representing Great Britain in?
I swim in the S7 category and I’m going to be entering five events which will be the fifty, hundred and four hundred freestyle, the fifty metres butterfly and the hundred metres backstroke.
What’s your best event?
I couldn’t really say. I think in each competition I seem to make improvements in the different strokes as I go along, so I wouldn’t really say that there’s one in particular, but I really enjoy swimming the butterfly.
When did you start swimming and when did you start swimming competitively?
I started swimming when I was six years old but I didn’t really train as a child. I got into training when I went to university in Newcastle and I started to compete then, but I had a bit of a break whilst I was developing my career so I came back into it in 2009.
Were you good at any other sports?
No, not really. I mean, I’ve always loved swimming and with my disability it’s the best sport for me. I couldn’t really be a runner or do athletics. I really like swimming. I like playing tennis but I’m not as good at that.
What’s your typical training day like as a Paralympian?
It varies really, depending on the day. I can either do two sessions in the swimming pool or do just one. I also do weight training as well to complement the swimming.
How does the weight training help?
It just gets you to build up different muscle groups, and also cross training is quite good when you’re an athlete.
Do you have to eat anything special?
I eat a lot of carbohydrate-based foods so things like potatoes, rice, pasta which are really good for energy. I also eat a lot of protein, so it’s just a balanced diet really.
So, you wouldn’t eat a lot more than a normal person would you?
Yeah, probably. I tend to eat little and often, so quite a lot of snack meals throughout the day rather than three main meals.
Is there anything that you really shouldn’t eat but you do anyway?
I love chocolate, so I do occasionally slip with the chocolate but, you know, a treat once in a while is okay.
Is there anything that you’re absolutely not allowed to have while you’re training?
There’s nothing you’re not allowed to have, but obviously you want to avoid processed food, things like hamburgers, where you don’t really know where the ingredients have come from.
Recently, you swam at the IPC European Championships in Berlin. That was in July last year and you did very well. Can you tell us about that?
I got five golds there and a silver which was quite unexpected to be honest. It was my first international competition and I wanted to make the team, but my ultimate goal has always been to get on the team for 2012. So, I just went along to the European championships and I didn’t really have big expectations and then it just went really well, the whole event for me so yeah, it was a brilliant experience.
So, were you genuinely surprised?
Genuinely surprised, yeah. Obviously I’d done the hard work but you just never know until you get there.
How many events were you entered for?
Five, plus I was part of the relay team as well.
How optimistic are you that you will be able to win some medals this time round in London?
Well, it’s very hard to say. I think because last year was European level and this year it’s world level and I’ve never raced world level before. There’s a lot more competition out there, so I’m not really saying I’m going to get anything yet, I’m just going to try my best.
This is your last week working in the British Council before you leave to concentrate full time on training. What will you be doing during that training period?
It allows more time for rest, and also not having to kind of commute across London is going to be quite nice, but I will really miss the work because I love the people here. That’s why it’s nice to know that I’ll be coming back at some point in October after the Games.
What will your life be like after the Games?
I really don’t know, it’s almost a bit dreamlike. I don’t think you can prepare yourself for it and the people I know on the team who went to Beijing have said that it can be quite life-changing.
Finally, which Olympic and Paralympic swimmers do you most admire and why?
Well, I really admire my team mates. They all did really well in Beijing but particularly Ellie Simmons who won two golds and Liz Johnson who won gold, Sam Hynd. I have a lot of respect for everyone on the team. For Olympic athletes, I think Rebecca Adlington did really well, and she’s probably going to do really well this year. I’ve watched her swim up close and she’s got a fantastic stroke so she’s always a pleasure to watch in the water.