“I learned a lot about how to handle extreme pressure and perform in front of a huge audience"
With the World Para Swimming World Series beginning in Copenhagen on 2 March, Denmark’s two-time Paralympian Amalie Vinther is looking forward to racing on the international stage in her home country. “It’s not very often that I have the chance to compete in my own country,” the 22-year-old said.
“It is always special to be on home ground and the fact I don’t have to travel too far is also nice. I know that some of my family will [be in the stands], and that is always nice.”
This competition will also launch Vinther’s busy 2018 campaign, which includes the European Championships in Dublin, Ireland, between 13 and 19 August.
“I hope to qualify for the European Championship in August this year and I also expect to attend some more of the World Series”, she said.
“My goal is to participate in the 2019 Para Swimming World Championships in in Malaysia and my big goal is the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.”
For the past four years, Vinther has been averaging 22 hours of training a week, mixing pool training with strength and condition and alternative training.
“I optimise my training and attend training camps, and at the same time I concentrate on healthy living and eating,” she added.
Training with the Thiste swimming club, Denmark’s only gold medallist at the 2016 Para Swimming European Championships has faced some adversity this season as the club’s only athlete with impairment.
“The training in my club has not been optimal, and it has not been easy for the trainer to adapt the training sessions for me,” she said.
Despite that, the training conditions have not slowed her down or inhibited any of her ambitions. In fact, Vinther has already set clear goals for the next few years.
“In the next three years, my goals are to take medals at the European Championships, and be among the five best swimmers in the 400m freestyle at the World Championships and in Tokyo,” she said.
Vinther earned a second Paralympic berth in 2016. Her best result was in the women’s 400m freestyle, her signature event, in which she clocked in 5:12:01 to place fifth in a star-studded final, with world-record holder Lakeisha Patterson and 13-time Paralympic gold medallist Jessica Long.
“I learned a lot about how to handle extreme pressure and perform in front of a huge audience,” she said about her experience at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The Dane, who recently moved into her own apartment in Aarhus and is studying to become a teacher as a Team Denmark student, maintains a sharp mind going into every competition.
Vinther adds that focusing on the triumphant moments is what helps her cope with the increasing stress and pressure that comes with high-performance sports.
“Preparing for a competition, I use my routine. A good advice is to visualise some of my successes before a race and think positive. Never think, ‘what can go wrong?’ and always think, ‘I can do this’”.
The World Para Swimming World Series starts in Copenhagen from 2-4 March, while the European Championships will take place in Dublin between 13 and 19 August.