CLAIRE Cashmore has welcomed a wind of change at an opportune moment in her career this year – adamant size will matter as she plans to mark a decade as a major international swimmer in style.
The Redditch-born simmer made her major international debut on the biggest stage possible at the Athens 2004 Paralympics and where she would return to Britain as a double bronze medallist.
She has since medaled at the next two Paralympics – in fact every single major international event she has attended from World Championship to European Championship level.
Now 26, she is set to make her third European appearance in Eindhoven next month although the 2014 edition has been approached from a different angle than those previous.
She has ruled that she needs to get bigger and stronger in order to stay fast and insists two years before the Rio 2016 Paralympics is the perfect time for something different – she’s even buying a house.
“I am doing more in the gym. My programme is focused on getting a little bit bigger in size. Still keeping lean but trying to get stronger,” she said.
“So I am spending a lot more time in the gym and a little less time in the pool.
It is quite different to what I am used to but I am enjoying it.
“I am at that age where I need to make changes. I definitely feel stronger and hopefully I will be able to transfer that into the pool and be stronger.
“After the trials earlier in the year I knew it was a good time to do it. You don’t want to do it next year before the World Championships.
“Then it leads into Rio and you can’t do it then. Overall, things are still exciting me.
“Once I don’t get that and to the point where I am not excited and I don’t get butterflies before a big competition then it is time to retire.”
After next month’s European Championships in the Netherlands Cashmore will return to the London Aquatics Centre to compete as part of National Paralympic Day on August 30.
She won double silver and bronze at the London 2012 Paralympics and admits if her experiment in the gym doesn’t bear fruit she’ll happily revert back to what has delivered almost 30 major international medals.
“It is quite scary because you don’t know how it is going to go and I won’t know how it is has gone until the Europeans,” she added.
“But if you always do something you never get to see what improvements you are trying to make because you are in your comfort zone.
“I’ll take those little risks now and if I am not completely happy I can scrap it and go back to how it was.”
National Paralympic Day will be celebrated on Saturday August 30 with a day of Paralympic sport and disability arts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. To buy tickets for the Paralympic sport, log on to www.axs.com/national-paralympic-day. #NPD2014 is supported by Spirit of 2012.