JESS LLOYD continues to pull 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, who took a break from the pool of just short of seven months due to her mother Ann being seriously ill, is back in action.
And Jess, a former pupil at Saddleworth School, is clawing back lost ground each week as she strives to clock the qualifying times she needs to compete in next spring’s Olympic trials.
“I can see an improvement each week, and by large amounts, and training is going well, though it is hard not to be disappointed when you don’t get the times you used to clock,” explained Jess who added she can tell by her swimming costume she has lost weight and is getting back into shape.
Jess is also delighted to be back adding: “After the stresses in my personal life – helping caring for my mum – it is nice to have something positive to focus on.
“It is a relief from the stress I have had and also nice to see that she is feeling better, though she is still receiving treatment.”
Jess had her first competition in 12 months at the end of October at the Manchester International and followed that by competing in Bolzano, Italy.
And the next month is also massively important for Jess on the comeback trail.
She competes in the 25 metre national championships at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, on December 16/17 and then had a training camp in Dubai between December 29 and January 9.
Jess said: “I have the same targets as before which is to catch up. It is a case of seeing what needs to be done to get back to where I used to be.
“The target is to get qualifying times so I can take part in the Olympic trials.”
And the intense training schedule – nine pool sessions each week plus others in the gym – means there will be no over indulgence at Christmas for Jess.
“I will have a couple of days off, but will make up for that by having a massive training session on Christmas Eve morning,” she explained.
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.
And Jess, who finished fifth in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay at London 2012, is focusing solely on making it to Rio as she explained: “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 already see the benefits.”
And everything is geared towards the Olympic trials as she explained: “Rio has always been somewhere 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.”