“I don’t count in medals. I always work towards a new best time in each race."
Germany’s multiple world record holding swimmer Kirsten Bruhn is feeling the pressure ahead of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming European Championships which get underway this Saturday (2 July) in Berlin.
It may be Bruhn’s last European Championships, as the 41-year-old plans to retire after the London 2012 Paralympics, but she is keen to put on a good show in front of a home crowd and is excited to swim in the German capital.
Kirsten Bruhn said: “The biggest pressure on me comes from myself, no matter where the competition is. It’s really important for me to trust in my abilities and preparation.
“Where in the world can you swim as well as in Berlin? Nowhere. The pool is really special and I cannot wait to get swimming.”
In preparation for Berlin, the nine-time Paralympic and eight-time World medal winner, has an intensive training regime spending up to 25 hours each week working on technique in the pool and strengthening her upper body in the gym.
The swimmer, who sustained spinal injuries after a motorbike accident 20 years ago, says her priority in Berlin is to deliver her best performances ever.
“I don’t count in medals. I always work towards a new best time in each race.
“I would be happy with medals and records, but they’re not my goals,” she said.
Bruhn is competing in eight races starting on Sunday - 50m, 100m and 400m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke and three relay events – and will be focusing on the 100m Breaststroke and 100m Backstroke, events in which she holds the World record.
And when she lines up on the starting blocks for her first race, it is likely her parents’ words of wisdom will be ringing in her ears.
“It’s the best advice I’ve ever received: Whatever you want to do, don’t dream about it, just do it. You are your own boss! Keep on going to achieve your goals.”
Bruhn is one of around 440 swimmers from 36 countries competing in Berlin at the European Championships in what will be one of the last major international gatherings before the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Other top swimmers include Croatia’s World Record holder Mihovil Spanja and Paralympic gold medallist Liz Johnson of Great Britain.