Ellie Cole is one of Australia’s favourite ever Paralympic swimmers ever. She’ll become the country’s most decorated female Paralympian when she appears in her third and final Commonwealth Games team when she swims in Birmingham later this month.
Currently training in Chartes in France, Cole is enjoying the integrated training environment within the Australian Dolphins set-up. This unique camp with able-bodied and Paralympic swimmers will provide the perfect backdrop for her curtain call.
She explains the way the two teams came together and how she feels about the way she will leave the sport she loves.
“We have 70-odd swimmers in this camp, it’s a huge team and probably the biggest I’ve ever been a part of,” Cole explained.
“[To be able to farewell the sport and be] able to have a send off surrounded by 70 Dolphins swimmers, it’s pretty special.
“One thing that is really unique is that we have our able-bodied team as well as our para team coming together at the same time, so it’s a huge team.
“We kind of see each other around pool deck and at nationals and whatnot, but very rarely do we actually come together for the same competition. To be able to come together and I guess travel with familiar faces that we see around all the time is really exciting.
“I guess I’m so used to being around the same 30 odd swimmers on our para team, so it’s nice to be able to see some faces that I don’t know too well and get to know those Dolphins swimmers better. At the end of the day, when we are going to Paris 2024 or even Brisbane [Olympics], they are going to be the faces that I am cheering on our TV screens.”
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At 30-years-old, Cole is looking forward to what awaits her on the other side of the Commonwealth Games. One thing that excites her the most is giving up her hard sets that come before all major meets.
“I’m kind of just enjoying the time with my team and my last stage in camp,” Cole said.
“It’s really great actually, I’ve just finished the last hard block of my training and so to know I’m never going to have to do a hard session ever again if I don’t want to is really exciting.
“I think the competitive side of me is probably going to come out and I’m probably going to be doing heart rate sets when I get home, but it’s been really good at this stage in camp.”
Usually featuring within the longer distance events, it is surprising to most that Cole will go into Birmingham with a sprint event only. Swimming the 100m freestyle is something she has done many times before, but mostly as a supplementary event or as part of a relay event.
“I have one event in Birmingham, it’s the 100m freestyle and it’s on day one,” she said.
“[That means] I’m kind of finished after the first day and it’s a sprint event so [it’s] not my specialty, but I have won a gold medal in the 100 metre freestyle at the Paralympics before, so I know I can pull out a sprint on a good day.
“My old coach he used to call me a Diesel Prado, I don’t go very fast but I’ll give it my best shot and we will see what we pull out.”
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