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‘It was such a cool experience to swim in a World Championship semi-final’

Emma Harvey at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha

Swimmer Emma Harvey is still basking in the glow of competing in a world championship semi-final for the first time.

The 22-year-old broke a national record in the heats of the 50 metres backstroke on Tuesday morning before taking on the world’s best in the semi-finals in the evening and the excitement still resonates.

“It’s a great feeling and the last six months have undoubtedly been the best six months of my career,” she said.

“I’m in a good place, my body feels like it is in the best shape of my life and I’m really excited. I’m just so excited for the future right now and with that swim yesterday morning to finish in the top ten qualifiers for the semi-final.

“I was obviously hoping to make the final but it was such a cool experience and I learnt so much from that one 30-second race, so the next time I have that opportunity I’m pretty confident that I will have a better shot of making the final.”

When breaking new ground and going deep into the latter stages of a major competition it’s important to take in the surroundings but Harvey feels she has learnt how to control her emotions after her semi-final time was a tad slower than her heat swim.

“I thought that the way things have been going this year if I swam really well then I would be able to just squeeze in so I definitely exceeded my expectations in the morning, which was really exciting.

“It was such a cool experience and really amazing to swim next to the best swimmers in the world and be competing with them so that was really awesome.

“But I executed the morning much better and I was just more level-headed going into it, while at night I was just trying to take it all in and I spent a lot more emotional energy in the half-hour, 20 minutes leading up to the race.

“I felt like some of my details weren’t there and, although the time was still better than all my previous best times apart from the morning, the emotional component was probably what made me go a little bit slower, but if I get that opportunity again I know I’ll do a better job of managing those emotions and give myself a better chance of making a final.”

Harvey was also keen to thank the people who have helped her make the breakthrough after some years of struggle.

“Between the ages of 16 and 21, I really struggled and felt I was going backwards but during that time I had some amazing people around me who helped me to keep believing and never let me lose sight of my goals,” she said.

That gave me the confidence to keep coming back. All the improvements that I made during that time that I wasn’t really seeing are starting to show up now, which is really exciting.

“I’m enjoying training a lot more now and I have a very positive outlook on the future. For me now, I have to keep reminding myself that while these times are exciting there may be times in my career in the future where I will not be able to post a best time or a national record every time I swim, and that will be perfectly normal and doesn’t mean that I’m in a worse place.

“I have to keep grounded and keep my expectations realistic coming off a really big improvement curve.”

Harvey has two events left at the World Championships, the 50 metres butterfly on Friday and the 50 metres freestyle on Saturday and it’s fair to say she can’t wait to get back in the pool.

“The 50 metres butterfly up until about a year ago has traditionally been my best event so that could be a great race,” Harvey said.

“The last time I swam it was at CAC Games and the Bermuda Nationals in about May last year and I think I have improved since then, so hopefully that will show.

“The 50 metres freestyle is a relatively new event and I’ve only started training for that for the last year or so, but I’ve really really enjoyed it.

“At these types of meets you can look at the psych sheet and see what your standing is but some people are dropping tons of time and others are adding time so it can be hard to know where you’ll finish, but I will give it my best shot.

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Published February 16, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated February 16, 2024 at 7:57 am)

‘It was such a cool experience to swim in a World Championship semi-final’

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