Having chlorine in their genes is all the fashion


Britain's Paralympic swimmers say "the chlorine gene" shaped their lives, and they are determined to bathe in London 2012 glory.

Gold-medal hopes have been boosted by people such as Ellie Simmonds and the potential of even younger team-mates inspired by Ellie in Beijing when she two gold medals aged just 13. Ellie is not alone in admitting she caught most of Team GB's London 2012 achievements on TV because she was determined not to miss out on her own preparations.

She said: "I was glued to the TV watching it all but training as well, because for me it is all about the Paralympics." Speaking at the team HQ in Manchester, she added: "It is going really well. It is so exciting being here with the whole team."

Being an "old hand" and competing in front of a home crowd will give her an edge, she said. "But I am not really thinking about medals. I am just going out there to do my best." The athletes have neither emphasised their disabilities nor sought to hide them, but for younger members it has been a test of nerves, because the Paralympics has never attracted such attention.

London will be Sascha Kindred's fifth Paralympics, and the media buzz is a far cry from his debut in Atlanta in 1996. Atlanta was the first Paralympics to get mass sponsorship. "But in Atlanta we only had a half-hour highlight show on the evening TV," he recalled. "Now the amount of press we have had has grown and grown and it's great. At the Royal Albert Hall launch I was sat next to Kate Middleton.

"We were talking about what music we listen to on our iPods and I was giving out a few polo tips."

Sascha and wife – fellow Paralympian gold medallist Nyree Lewis – have also had to face the challenge of parenthood in the countdown to the games. Daughter Ella is now aged 14 months but her father hopes she will not be too young to remember London 2012 and perhaps be inspired to compete herself.

He added: "It has been a juggling act but a very exciting one – and I think Ella has a bit of chlorine in her genes. I'm not thinking about what happens after London yet. I just love my sport, so getting the attention is a bonus. It helps my disability and it keeps me fit."

Team members have their own way of relaxing. One of the secrets of Jon Fox's record-breaking success is the Rubik's cube his grandmother gave him. He said: "It's great. There are millions of combinations and I take it everywhere with me. It has a few bumps and scratches but it is still going.

"When I am not relaxing before races with my cube I am listening to my iPod and I'm a big heavy-metal fan." It is all rib-tickling stuff, given the weighty debates these Paralympics have generated about equality and diversity.

But the athletes seem far less preoccupied with the controversies than do the general public. Only when pressed on the Royal Mail stamps fiasco is a veteran such as Claire Cashmore (mildly) stung: "It should be a level playing field, like the Olympics. Why shouldn't we get the same treatment?"

Younger Paralympians are simply bubbling over with the enthusiasm for the games or plain overawed. Amy Marren, just turned 14, is coming terms with seeing her face on buses for an adidas commercial, and being on the same team as Simmonds, whom she has idolised from the age of 10. While older members may fret how many gold medals they have left in them she is counting much more immediate blessings.

"I am really lucky I do not have that much homework. My swimming is my time out from all my school work usually," she said. Between school and swimming her life is all work and no play – but there will be time for socialising once the medals are handed out.

"My friends are all going on holiday and going out with each other but I can do all that when I get back – and I don't have time for a boyfriend," she added.

Hannah Russell, one the team's brightest hopes at 16, said: "I have only just finished my GCSEs and have got into the team at such a young age it is a dream come true."

She also has a gruelling schedule as a boarder at Gordon's in Surrey, rising at 5.30am daily so she can cram in a couple of hours' swimming before lessons at 9am. Then after the 5.30pm bell she is back in the water for another three hours' training. So what does she do to relax?

"I play the bagpipes because my dad's family is Scottish. I practise mainly at boarding school and only try to play them at home when the neighbours are not around."

Suggested Topics
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam