It's not all about winning medals
Having graduated with a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering in 2015, swimmer Andrew Willis is training towards his second Olympic Games.
You can get a bit obsessed with chasing medals, I just want to swim as well as I can.
I love training at Bath and the atmosphere here. My best blocks of training have been here. It’s where I am comfortable and happy. We’ve got a great training group and the new pool facilities are amazing.
Improving results while enjoying studies
When I joined the University in 2009, I could just swim up and down hard every day.
It doesn’t quite work like that now. We have cameras in the pool and that has really helped. It’s almost been like doing homework – checking my technique, working out how to make it more efficient so I can conserve energy.
You can simulate race conditions as well and I think that has shown in my times this year. I’ve had the chance to improve aspects of my training that I wasn’t able to fit in before.
Another difference has been completing my studies. Education has always been important to me and I received tremendous support from my department, which enabled me to combine my swimming with attaining a Masters degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
That experience also had a positive influence on my swimming – to be able to get away from my sport and have another focus was a big help.
Stay focused and keep going
I’m excited to have been selected for Rio and I’m looking forward to doing things slightly differently to four years ago. I reached the 200m breaststroke final at London 2012 and know what the Olympics is all about, so I will be going back there more mature.
I have been consistent now for the best part of six years but I am still improving. I just missed out on a medal at the World Championships last year, which was disappointing, but the big positive was I felt I progressed through the rounds.
That’s something I haven’t usually done and it’s testament to the work I’ve done out of the pool in finding how I can race to my best. I want to keep that same approach in Rio – focusing on doing what I have to do and not worrying about anyone else.
I don’t want to set myself a medal target – I’ve been there, done that and missed out. You can get a bit obsessed with chasing medals, but I just want to swim as well as I can.