Everything you need to know about me!I've been swimming for as long as I can remember.
My mum, Alison, and dad, Stuart taught me to swim when I was 5 years old, and I guess I was like a fish to water. They couldn't get me out of the pool, even when it was time to go home!
My dad was also a swimmer when he was younger, representing Team GB at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. I guess you could therefore say swimming was in my blood. My dad never pushed me to be a swimmer, but as a youngster I loved it so much that my parents had no choice but to let me join a swimming club. That’s when I became a member of Middlesbrough Swimming Club, along with my sister Chloe. As a result, competitions growing up were always attended as a family; my mum supplied the food, dad drove, and my sister and I competed.
My first ever race was at a Junior League when I won the 50m backstroke at just 9 years old, and from then on I remember wanting to win every time. I was the National Champion in the 200m Backstroke at ages 11, 12 and 13, and at 13 my other strokes began to improve.
After winning two golds, a silver and a bronze at the 2007 European Youth Olympic Festival, I won my first British Champs medal with 400m Individual Medley bronze in 2009 then went on to win silver in both individual medley events at the European Junior Championships in Prague. This was the point in my life where I knew I wanted to be stood on a podium singing the national anthem as Olympic Champion, and that’s still the aim today on my Road to Rio in 2016.
I made the step up to senior international swimming the following season, competing at the 2010 European Championships in Budapest before making finals in both individual medleys and the 800m Freestyle for England at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
After finishing my school studies in 2011, I returned back on the scene at the 2012 British Gas Swimming Championships in London, clocking an English record to win silver in the 400m Individual Medley and qualify for my debut Olympics.
I was disappointed to only finish 11th in the 400m IM at London 2012, but the amount I learned from being part of the team at only 19 was so important for me for the future. Strangely too, the date I raced was the same day as my dad did when he finished 15th in the 400m IM at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
I won my first major medal with a 800m Freestyle bronze at the 2012 European Short Course Championships before adding a 400m Freestyle bronze to my 400m Individual Medley silver at the 2013 British Gas Swimming Championships.
I was delighted to be chosen to be part of Team England's Commonwealth Games team for Glasgow in the summer of 2014. Competing in 5 events, I was targeting at least 2 medals. Although narrowly missing out on Gold in my favoured 400m IM, I was delighted to win Silver in both this and my first attempt at the 200m Butterfly!
Two weeks later, I followed this by winning Bronze and Silver in the 400m and 200m IM at the European Championships in Berlin.
2015 proved to be a tough year for me both in the pool and out. During this time I moved away from home and started a new chapter in my career as a member of the London Aquatic Centre Performance Programme, which is based at the London Aquatic Centre (The Olympic Pool). I also chose to continue my studies. I am currently completing my Sport and Exercise Science degree at The University of East London, and really enjoying my time here.
Throughout the ups and downs of the 2015 season I still managed to secure my place on the World Championship team in Russia, where I finished 7th, qualifying for my first final on a world stage.
This season I hope to earn my place on the GB swim team for Rio 2016 and I invite you to follow my journey throughout the season by social media, on either Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.Thank you for all your Support! #RoadtoRio #TeamWillmott