My name is Alice Tai, I'm 15 and I am a GB para-swimmer. I was born with severe clubbed feet and by the time I was 12 I'd had 14 operations to straighten both legs and the position of my feet.
My feet continuously relapsed and my last operation resulted in the bones in my feet and ankles being completely fused together. This means that I have no movement at all through my feet or ankle joints and my legs are very weak and underdeveloped.
I began swimming when I was about seven in order to speed up my recovery between operations, and soon discovered that swimming was one of the only sports I could actually do.
I moved on from swimming lessons and joined my local swimming club, Seagulls, in Christchurch, Dorset where Barry Aldrick, my coach, suggested I should be classified as a disabled swimmer. And that’s where it all began...
Although swimming has its downsides (getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning) it's given me so many amazing opportunities to travel around the world, making new friends and doing what I love!
At the end of last year I was selected to go to Brazil with three other swimmers for the 'Parlympiados Escolares'. As well as the weather being gorgeous every day, it was a fantastic experience to form new friendships. I managed to learn some simple Portuguese too!
Balancing school work
At the moment I train at and attend Bournemouth Collegiate School. A typical week starts with a 5.10am alarm for a 1hr 45min session at 6am. Then it's out of the pool for breakfast at school with the rest of the Swim Academy and the boarders.
After breakfast the school day begins, followed by another swimming session from 4-6pm, then it's home for tea, homework and sleep! In addition to the swimming programme we have training sessions in the school gym.
Balancing school work and swimming is very hard for swimmers so I feel very fortunate to have a school scholarship and a flexible timetable built around my swimming needs, and really supportive teachers.
IPC European Champs
Earlier this year I competed at the trials for the IPC European championships and was successful in gaining a place on the squad. The Europeans were my first major championships and when I found out that I had been selected I was delighted, especially as I was the youngest member of the team.
The Europeans was my chance to gain experience at a major International event, so I was ecstatic when I won a bronze (400m Free), silver (100m Back) and gold (4x100m 34 point relay). Being selected for the relay was such a huge honour, but really nerve wracking.
Next set of goals
Although I am pleased with my performance at the Europeans I am now focusing on my next set of goals, which is to make the squad for the World Championships in Glasgow next year, and then hopefully Rio 2016 Paralympics and beyond!
I also have my GCSEs next year, so it's going to be pretty tough.
Like most swimmers, I don’t have a lot of ‘downtime’, so I have to manage the time I have and be strict with the organisation and completion of schoolwork.
When I do have spare time at weekends or school holidays I enjoy meeting up with my friends, listening to music and catching up with the outside world on social media. But, at the moment, I spend more time in the water than I do on land!