Hello and welcome to my first blog.
I am one of two swimmers – along with Andrew Mullen – that Mactaggart & Mickel Group is sponsoring this year.
As part of my sponsorship, I’m going to be doing a three-part blog series giving you updates on my training and everyday life, which will hopefully give you an idea of what it’s like to be a young athlete. Before I dive into my world, I would like to just take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Mactaggart & Mickel Group – I’m so appreciative of the support the company is giving me and can’t wait to share my experiences with you all over the coming months.
So, me… where to begin? It’s probably best to start with the basics and from the very beginning…
In case you haven’t already noticed, my name is Mark Deans. I am a 21 year old, open water competitive swimmer from Jordanhill in Glasgow, but I grew up in Paisley.
I began swimming at the age of four at the Scotstoun Leisure Centre and I think it was clear how much I loved it when, by the age of nine, I was going to 5am early-morning pool sessions before school. Fast forward to the present day and I’ve now been a member of the City of Glasgow Swim Team for over a decade. I’ve specialised in open water swimming for the last nine years, competing for the Scottish and British teams both here in the UK and internationally. It’s safe to say, the 5am training sessions have just become a part of my daily routine and they’ve allowed me to achieve some amazing things:
• Open Water Swimmer of the Year 2015 (Scottish Swimming Awards)
• Winner of the first ever Neptune Steps in 2015, the world’s first uphill swimming race
• Scottish Open Water Champion at 2km, 5km and 10km events
• Western Australia 10km Open Water Champion 2015
• German 25km Open Water Champion 2013
For the past few months the aim has been to qualify for the European Open Water Championships taking place in Hoorn, Netherlands. To make sure I was performing at my best, I went to a warm weather training camp in Mallorca with the British Swimming Team.
The idea behind it was to race every second day to sharpen our racing skills before the Great East Swim in Ipswich which would determine who would be selected to go to Euros. While I was in Mallorca I really upped my game and placed extremely well against the other British athletes but I was still nervous for the trials.
They came around so quickly and before I knew it I was at the start line for the Great East Swim, a 5km open water race that would decide if I would make the team for the Euros. From the beginning I was in a really good position and managed to avoid any troubling physical aspects that come with swimming in a pack during open water races. With 500m to go, it came down to an all-out sprint to the finish line. I gave it my all and pushed myself to the limits, placing third with only seconds separating the top five swimmers over what was an hour long race.
With my performances earlier in Mallorca along with my third ranking in the qualifying race, I was feeling pretty confident that I had done enough to get selected for the second year. Unfortunately, on the Monday after the race I was notified that I did not make the team. It came as a massive shock, and I was immediately disappointed and questioned what more I could have done. I still don’t fully understand why I wasn’t selected and I’m still coming to grips with it, but it’s important to pick yourself up and move on which is what I’m doing.
As a high-level athlete it is essential to enjoy the highs of the sport but more importantly keep your focus and passion consistent to drive you forward. I am training for many races and my season is still looking good with the Scottish Open Water Nationals (2, 5, 10km), Faros Marathon in Croatia (16km) and the Swedish Red Bull Neptune Steps. I’ve also got my eyes focused on the upcoming World Championships in 2017 and Commonwealth Games in 2018 – watch this space!
See everyone in the next blog.