Chelsea McKay is a local girl doing good, and a rising star on the national swimming scene. Chelsea started her love of swimming with lessons at Evington Leisure Centre; completing all levels by the time she was just 8. Things became serious when Chelsea joined the Leicester Neptunes swimming club, which led to her being asked to swim for the City of Leicester swimming club at 9 years old. Since then Chelsea has dedicated all her time to swimming training 8 times a week, 2 of which sessions are before school. All this determination has clearly paid off as thing are only getting better for Miss McKay. Last year she became the champion of 200m fly in the East Midlands beating of all competition, and also qualified for the ASA national championship. Just recently she went to Holland to represent England and Leicester, at the Children’s Games. At just 13 she is the youngest out of the the 8 that went.
Ben: So you’ve just go back from a swimming competition in Holland, I hope you avoided the perils of Amsterdam. How was your experience flying the flag for the country, swimming in foreign lands?
Chelsea: It was really good as part of it we met lots of different people there, I made friends with them all. We exchanged our hats and pins with each other and stuff like that. There was a real community type thing there.
Ben: Now you’ve been swimming for a long time. What was it that initially motivated you, I don’t suppose it was the little mermaid?
Chelsea: I’m not really sure, like.
Ben: Was it your Mum did she push you in?
Chelsea: No (Laughs). When I did swimming lessons I always enjoyed it and I was really competitive, and I always wanted to win. So once I eventually finished my swimming lessons, I started doing lots of competitive swimming for the Neptunes. And then after that I slowly went from that and I did open meets. This then led to me being selected by City of Leicester and I carried on from there, going up.
Ben: Now I know you go swimming most days, even before school. Which is quite a feat, as most people can’t even get up before school. What motivates you? What would you suggests to people struggling with motivation?
Chelsea: I think the most important thing is dedication to your sport and commitment. If you can’t commit to something, there’s no point doing it. So like getting up in the morning can be really bad. But I think like I’m gonna get something at the end of it. So I push through, and carry on.
Ben: That’s a really good way to look at it all. Now what’s your favourite part about swimming, what is the reward for you? For me it was the vending machines at the end.
Chelsea: No, that’s not it for me. Like I don’t know. I just feel really happy when I get into the Nationals and British Championships. Because it’s in Sheffield we get put up in really nice hotels and we can go out for the weekend.
Ben: When you’re competing with other girls is it a friendly supportive atmosphere? Or are you eying each other up?
Chelsea: I do think it’s me for myself; but I don’t take that out on the other swimmers. So we are friends, when we exchange our pins and hats. And we always say good luck to each other. But then in our heads: it’s for yourself, it’s not for anyone else. So at the end of the day, you are racing them and you know you’ve got to try as hard as you can to beat them. You just try not to show it.
Ben: Right, so imagine you’ve just finished, you’ve done 100 laps. You’d obviously be low on energy, what’s your food of choice that your Mum gets?
Chelsea: With our Mum nothing (Laughs). Probably like McDonalds or something. If we’re lucky we’d go out somewhere.
Ben: Last month was a month to celebrate Women and encourage Women into sport. What would your suggestion be to women who are thinking to themselves: ‘I’m too busy to get into exercise’ or ‘I’m nervous about going to the gym’?
Chelsea: The most important thing is you believe in yourself. You do it for yourself, not for anyone else. You always gain something at the end of it. Say if you do running, or anything. You can enter competitions, or even if you’re not doing it competitively you get the benefit of feeling good about yourself.
Chelsea’s Dad: What she said to me was, ‘Dad, my ultimate dream is to swim in the Olympic Games, but obviously if that doesn’t happen I’m going university and I’m doing this and this’. She’s been saying that for at least two years. The school said if she took her exams now she’d get Bs and Cs already. So she’s top of the class as well.
Ben: So an all rounder in every sense of the world. Talking about school, what do your friends at school think? Are they like this is our girl we are gonna see her do good and support her all the way.
Chelsea: Yeah they’re really supportive. You know how I just went to Holland, well they threw a party saying ‘Congratulations!’ and ‘Good Luck!’ They got me presents and stuff like that. They come and watch me swim, one of them takes pictures of me swimming and gets them in the newsletter. So they do stuff like that.
Ben: Right, now I suppose you’re a rising star we will see a lot more victories from you. We need to be prepared for when you get the gold, what song do we cue? Do we have a Chelsea equivalent of the Mobot?