17 September 2019

#RoadToRio: Star swimmer, Siobhan O’Connor

March 30, 2016

Siobhan O’Connor is one of TeamGB’s brightest hopes in the pool. With medal-winning performances in both the Commonwealth Games and World Championships, she’s on track for a place on the team for Rio and all going well her first Olympic final. Sportsister caught up with Siobhan at her old school where she spent the day inspiring students as part of the Sky Sports Scholars scheme.


Training at the university in Bath

“It’s a great set-up in Bath, I’ve swum there for about 10 years now in different groups. I am so lucky, it’s one of only two centres for swimming and it’s on my doorstep! There’s an amazing pool and gym, great backroom staff – really it couldn’t be better.

The whole team in Bath are training to get on the Olympic squad, we’re really close because we all train and hang-out together. Sometimes it’s tough because swimmers do come and go and we’re like a family, so we miss people when they leave.”

Warm weather training

“We’ve just come back from a six-week training camp in Australia which was excellent, we do it as a team from Bath and this time met up with the squad from Loughborough too. It was brilliant, especially as it was supported by the SkySports Scholars scheme, otherwise I am not sure how I could manage it.

We were training in an outdoor pool there which was lovely, obviously! But it’s not so good for competition – luckily the pool in Rio is indoor. Aside from the weather conditions, things like backstroke are so hard as you’ve no guides to follow and you end up swimming all over the lane!”


Four years on from London

“My London selection was really late and I didn’t even think that I was in with a chance of selection, but it was a brilliant whirlwind experience for me and I loved every minute of it.

This year is different! I am hoping to qualify in April. I am obviously on the radar now, but it makes no difference – I put pressure on myself to do well, that’s what I want, It’s what I am training for.”

Favourite event

“My favourite event is the 200m medley, it’s what I am best at and stand the best chance in this year. Being a medley swimmer is great because I also swim the individual strokes – so I also like the 100m fly. It varies year to year though.

Backstroke is my weakest, so I really need to work harder on that as you can’t have a weakness. I used to love it, so not sure why it’s not so good, but it’s definitely the one where I can make improvements. Training is going well though, I am really healthy and have no injuries, so I am looking forward to the trials in Glasgow starting on the 12th April.”

Taste of success

“Last year standing on top of the podium at the World Championships (mixed relay) and hearing the national anthem was amazing. We didn’t expect to win because the USA had broken the world record the day before – I really wish this event was in the Olympics and I think it won’t be long before it makes the games. The whole event was our most successful World Championships ever so it’s looking great for Rio!

London was such an inspiration and this year I really want to get to the finals. Then if I get to the final then anything can happen.”


Role models

“Becky Addlington is such an inspiration to me, such an amazing role model – she’s our most successful Olympian ever and I really look up to her. It’s just so nice to have her there supporting us, she so supportive and a brilliant, welcoming and kind person. I hope I can be half as good a role model as she has been, I want to treat people as she treated me.

It’s been really nice to come back to Ralph Allen School and speak to the kids, that’s part of the process. When I was younger it was always so nice to hear athletes’ stories and realise that I could do that too. Some of the children here want to get involved in sport and are training really hard already – so it’s great to be able to pass on what I have learned.”

Siobhan is supported by the Sky Academy Sports Scholarship scheme, helping young athletes fulfill their potential on the international stage and achieve their goals for Rio 2016: skysports.com/scholarships

Danielle Sellwood, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine

Read our previous #RoadToRio articles here:

#RoadToRio – Hannah Cockroft

#RoadToRio – Meet weightlifter Rebekah Tiler

#RoadToRio: Video – Lizzie Armitstead and Lucy Garner


You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Select a sport

Find out how to get started, training plans and expert advice.