After battling to hang on to her world-record times and winning four golds and a silver at July’s 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Swimming European Championships in Berlin, Norway’s Sarah Louise Rung took a little time off.
Three weeks out of the pool was just enough for the 21-year-old to get the mental break she needed before a year’s worth of training for the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Rung, who will be a newcomer to the Paralympics, said her biggest achievement thus far is her performance at the Euros. In Berlin, she won the 100m Breaststroke SB4, 200m Freestyle S5, 200m Individual Medley SM5, 50m Butterfly S5 and took second in the 100m Freestyle S5.
“Although I got three golds in the Worlds, my performances were better I think at the European Championships in Berlin,” Rung said.
Rung provided spectators with more than enough drama in the 100m Breaststroke event alone.
Ukraine’s Natalia Prologaieva stole Rung’s world-record time in Heat 1, and then Rung took it right back in Heat 2. Then in the Finals, the Norwegian set another new world-record mark with a time of 1:48.42.
“I realized in Berlin that she was a really good swimmer as well, and that I had a really tough opponent,” Rung said of Prologaieva.
“In the Finals, I didn’t know if she had any more room to improve, but I knew that one of us had to set a new world record to win the gold medal.”
Rung is now back in the pool, refreshed, taking part in ten pool sessions, three strength training sessions and four land training sessions per week from now through London 2012.
At this point, it is hard to imagine that just three years ago, on 1 September 2008, Rung suffered a spinal-cord injury after an operation to straighten her back went off course.
“I stayed at the hospital almost for a month, so when I got back home, I went straight to the pool really, and it started from there, building myself up again with one to two sessions a week at first,” Rung said.
“Then after six months, I was back into almost normal training, which is about 20-25 hours per week.”
Now, Rung’s schedule is filled with training sessions and schoolwork.
When she’s not in the pool or the gym, Rung is working toward her master’s degree in engineering from the University of Stavanger in Norway. Her lectures are even video recorded and made available online so that she can follow her courses when she’s on the road.
After looking at how quickly Rung has risen on the Paralympic scene, she may have to watch her lectures online quite frequently in the upcoming year.