With British Championships now only weeks away, Robbie Renwick is working hard in the hope of making the Great Britain team for the Rio Olympics this Summer.
Renwick won gold for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 in the 200m Freestyle and made the Olympic final for Team GB in London two years later. At last August’s World Championships in Kazan, Russia, Renwick picked up gold as the Brits stormed to victory in the 4x200m Freestyle relay.
Last week, Renwick took part in a live ‘Q & A’ session for BBC Get Inspired hosted by comedian Sanjeev Kohli, where a studio audience of 16-18 year olds had the chance to question the swimmer and find out all about what makes him such an excellent athlete. Read on to find out some of Renwick’s answers, including how he finds the right balance in life and what he eats on a race day…
More than a hobby
When did you realise swimming wasn't just a hobby?
Qualifying for the Commonwealth Games at the age of 16. That was the pinnacle for sport for me – I was ecstatic and it was a huge honour. We came away with a silver medal in that 4x200m and that was a huge realisation I could compete with the big boys.
What have you sacrificed to get to where you are?
I really don’t like the word sacrifice – I’ve been given so many opportunities that I would never, ever have done if I wasn’t for swimming.
I’ve been given so many opportunities that I would never, ever have done if I wasn’t for swimming.
I travelled around the world, competed against the best swimmers in the world. How many 27 year olds can say they’ve done that? Who cares if I don’t go to a friend’s party? Your friends will always be your friends. It’s a case of keeping a balance in your life, not sacrificing anything at all.
What is your diet like before you compete?
It's not too bad. You have to eat very clean. The day before competition I would be 'carb loading' - more rice and pasta. I need to know my energy stores are there for the competition.
What's the best food to start the day?
What I’d recommend is having a bit of protein in the morning – I find that offsets hunger until at least lunchtime. Having two or three boiled eggs and a bowl of porridge, you’ll find you’ll be totally full until lunch. If you skip breakfast, you’ll find by 10.30am you want to snack on chocolate bars. Carbohydrates for me are the absolute devil – if you’re not exercising, it’s all going to turn into fat.
What's the best piece of advice you've been given?
Accept that you can't control everything. That way you can accept it when things don't go to plan and adapt.
How did you balance your schoolwork and your training?
From the age of 16 I qualified for my first Commonwealth Games in Melbourne 2006 – that was a realisation I could compete with the best swimmers in the world. I always kept school ticking over, but always remember you can catch-up with education later in life. I know plenty of athletes that are 27, 28 and are going to head back to university.
Don’t be in a rush to get things done. If you’re very good at what you do, sport is only there for a very short time in your life. I would recommend you take advantage of that. Don’t feel pressured into going into university straight away – take your time through life.
Chasing the dream
How do you stay motivated?
If you can get through those days when you can't be bothered you will be tougher. That's the approach I take. I'm thinking 'if I don't go training I know there will be a swimmer somewhere around the world who IS out there training'. That's what gets me going.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
Last summer our 4x200m relay team got gold at the World Championships. The previous year at the Commonwealth Games I missed the gold medal and I felt I had to prove myself. The icing on the cake was beating the American team. It was priceless to see the look on their faces.