JESS LLOYD is pulling out all the stops to win a place in the Great Britain swimming team for next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
The 20-year-old from Diggle recently returned to competitive action after taking a break of just short of seven months due to her mother Ann being seriously ill.
But with Ann’s course of chemotherapy completed, Jess was back in the pool for the recent Manchester International.
“I needed to take a step back while my mum was ill as she was my main priority,” explained Jess who added it was a challenging period mentally.
But with her mother progressing well, Jess says she felt confident to return to training and focus once more on swimming.
She is putting in nine sessions each week in the pool plus others in the gym as she looks to make up lost ground.
And Jess, who swims for City of Manchester Aquatics, is confident she will be ready for the Olympic trials in April at Glasgow’s Tollcross Pool where she won two relay medals for Team England at last year’s Commonwealth Games.
Jess, who finished fifth in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay at London 2012, said: “In the past I have always combined my swimming with either education and work which was tough.
“I have decided to concentrate solely on swimming so, with no other distractions, I can rest in-between training sessions that are very intense.
“It is working well and I can see the benefits as I play catch up.”
Jess’s appearance at the Manchester International, her first competitive appearance for just over a year as she took part in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 50m butterfly.
She explained: “It was important, not for the results, but to race, see how far behind I am and what I need to do in training.
“It was hard to race knowing you used to go a lot quicker, but in the 50m freestyle I was only half a second off my best time which was a pleasant surprise.”
Jess competed last weekend in a short-course event in Bolzano, Italy, as her preparations continued.
And everything is geared towards the Olympic trials as she explained: “Rio has always been somewhere I where I wanted to compete.
“Obviously it is going to be more difficult due to having had time out, but I am not crossing it off the list.
“It is a case of keeping calm and training hard. I have been really pleased with the progress I have made since I returned.”