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14944-Hannah Russell photo

Hannah Russell

Swimming
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1
3

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Vision impairment
Origin of Impairment
Congenital
Classification
S12, SB12, SM12

Further personal information

Residence
Manchester, ENG
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English, French
Higher education
Sports Science - University of Salford: England

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began swimming at age four and joined Woking Swimming Club in England at age seven.
Why this sport?
"Due to my visual impairment, my parents thought swimming would be a perfect sport for me to enter. At the age of four I was introduced to swimming, absolutely loved it, and joined Woking Swimming Club. When I was at school I got told by one of my teachers to draw what I wanted to become when I was older. I drew myself as an international swimmer." She was later scouted through the Playground to Podium initiative, which is designed to identify young people and adults with an impairment that have the potential to become elite athletes.
Club / Team
City of Manchester Aquatics Swim Team [COMAST]: England
Name of coach
Lauren Jocelyn [personal]; Rob Aubry [national]
Training Regime
In 2020 she moved out of her family home in Surrey to train at the National Performance Centre in Manchester, England, under elite athlete dispensation. "Every day I'll train around 5-6 hours. I'll do two pool sessions, one in the morning and one in the evening, which are two hours long. My swim sessions primarily consist of aerobic, anaerobic and kick training. In between swim, I will complete three strength and conditioning sessions a week, which involves weights and core stability exercises."

International debut

Year
2011
Competing for
Great Britain

General interest

Hobbies
Cooking, baking, spending time with her pet dog. (britishswimming.org, 13 Jul 2021)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold medals in the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and being made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in 2017. (salford.ac.uk, 15 Jul 2021; britishswimming.org, 12 Jul 2018)
Hero / Idol
British swimmer Rebecca Adlington, British Para swimmer Ellie Simmonds. (sportsister.com, 25 Mar 2015)
Superstitions / Rituals / Beliefs
She always eats spaghetti bolognese before a race has her goggles underneath her hat. (britishswimming.org, 12 Jul 2018)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"For me it's all about my goals. I like to set goals going into competitions, and also in my personal life. If I set those goals, I've always got a target to achieve. I've set myself high standards, and I'm hoping to be able to reach them with the training I've done. If you put in the work the results will follow." (salford.ac.uk, 15 Jul 2021)
Awards and honours
In 2017 she was named a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire [MBE] in the Queen's New Year's Honours list. (salford.ac.uk, 15 Jul 2021; paralympic.org, 31 Dec 2016)
Other sports
Her father Carson Russell played rugby union at club level for London Scottish in England. (bbc.co.uk, 01 Sep 2012)
Ambitions
To defend her Paralympic titles in the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (salford.ac.uk, 15 Jul 2021; bbc.co.uk, 07 Apr 2021)
Impairment
She was born with myopia. (bbc.co.uk, 07 Apr 2021; standard.co.uk, 15 Sep 2016)
Other information
MENTAL HEALTH BREAK
In 2019 she took time off from swimming due to anxiety and depression. During that time she completed her bachelor's degree in sports science from the University of Salford with first-class honours, and watched the 2019 World Championships as a spectator, which hastened her return to the sport. "I was a little bit anxious of speaking out, but when I did speak to my coaches and family, they were really supportive. British Swimming were absolutely brilliant with me, and I can't fault them for all the support they have given me over the last few years. It was strange watching all of my teammates compete and I was sitting at home in front of a television screen instead of being there with them. Deep down, I knew I wanted to return to elite competition, but the break also helped me realise what a privileged position I was in as an elite athlete. I don't think I had had a chance to reflect on what I'd achieved throughout my career, and knowing that I could possibly go to my third Paralympic Games and achieve my goals gave me the strength and courage in wanting to return." (bbc.co.uk, 07 Apr 2021)

SOCIAL DISTANCING
She says the restrictions and protocols introduced to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic have presented her with some new challenges during training and competition. "I can only see up to 0.5m in my central vision, so with a two-metre radius where we have to stay apart, I can't see that far. I've really struggled to know where people are and knowing how far I have to stay away from them. I'm looking forward to being able to get a bit closer to people. I've had to message teammates and coaches to make them aware that if they are around and I don't notice them, I'm not ignoring them. They may just be too far away and we can't get closer. We did two competitions in Manchester before the [Paralympic] trials and it was quite daunting with all of the restrictions and protocols in place. But our head coach Rob Aubry did a run through with me of the whole event, so I knew exactly where I needed to go and what to do. It gave me more confidence, which has helped ahead of trials." (bbc.co.uk, 07 Apr 2021)

SPORTS MASSAGE
In 2020, on the advice of her sports lifestyle advisor, she decided to pursue a professional qualification in sports massage. "I've always had a massive interest in it. In my downtime at the moment I'm completing a few assignments, having already done the practical side of things, so soon I'll be a qualified sports massage therapist.” (britishswimming.org, 13 Jul 2021)

Results

Unit Date Rank
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 400 m Freestyle S12 Heat 1 2012-08-30 1
Women's 400 m Freestyle S12 Final Round 2012-08-30 2
Women's 100 m Butterfly S12 Final Round 2012-09-02 3
Women's 100 m Freestyle S12 Final Round 2012-09-04 6
Women's 100 m Freestyle S12 Heat 1 2012-09-04 1
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Heat 2 2012-09-05 1
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Final Round 2012-09-05 3
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Final Round 2012-09-07 4
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Heat 1 2012-09-07 3
2013 IPC Swimming World Championships (Montreal, Canada)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Freestyle S12 Heat 1 2013-08-12 1
Women's 100 m Freestyle S12 Final 1 2013-08-12 2
Women's 100 m Butterfly S12 Heat 1 2013-08-13 2
Women's 100 m Butterfly S12 Final 1 2013-08-13 2
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Final 1 2013-08-15 2
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Heat 1 2013-08-15 1
Women's 400 m Freestyle S12 Final 1 2013-08-16 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Final 1 2013-08-17 1
2015 IPC Swimming World Championships (Glasgow, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM13 Final 1 2015-07-14 4
Women's 200 m Individual Medley SM13 Heat 1 2015-07-14 3
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Final 1 2015-07-15 2
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Heat 1 2015-07-15 2
Women's 400 m Freestyle S13 Heat 2 2015-07-16 6
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Final 1 2015-07-18 1
Women's 100 m Freestyle S13 Final 1 2015-07-18 2
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Heat 1 2015-07-18 1
Women's 100 m Freestyle S13 Heat 1 2015-07-18 4
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m Backstroke S12 Final Round 2016-09-14 1
Women's 100 m Freestyle S13 Final Round 2016-09-16 3
Women's 100 m Freestyle S13 Heat 2 2016-09-16 1
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Final Round 2016-09-17 1
Women's 50 m Freestyle S12 Heat 2 2016-09-17 1