Today it is our privilege to bring you an interview with Paralympic Gold Medallist, Swimming Champion and Paratriathlete, Claire Cashmore. We discuss Claire’s personal stand-out moments from her career so far, finding balance between priorities in different areas of life, Claire’s interests outside of the world of sport and much more…
How did your passion for Swimming/ Triathlon begin and develop?
So I hated swimming to begin with, I grew up in Dubai and obviously your surrounded by water, so it was essential that I started to swim, purely from a safety point of view. It took a lot of persuasion to begin with, but as soon as I got in and got more confident, I started to love the water and my parents couldn’t get me out of there so constantly had to act as life guard whilst I was playing in the pool.
Then when I moved back to the UK, I started at a swimming club, because I really missed it, and then found out about disability swimming, got involved and then got thrown in the deep end really and started racing at nationals and went on from then.
What are your personal stand-out moments from your career as an athlete so far?
I think my most recent one would be, winning world championships as a triathlete. Obviously not being in the sport for that long, it was an amazing moment. However the race didn’t start as planned, I came out of the swim a lot further back than expected and it would have been quite easy to lose hope and lose my mind and think that I’d lost the race, but managed to re-focus mentally and ended up bringing it back to finally win on the run.
What does a typical week of training look like in preparation for a competition?
A typical week… obviously your trying to fit in four elements with the gym, swim, run and bike. So, I’ll do two gym sessions a week, four bike sessions, two aerobic, one sprint, one longer efforts. Five swim sessions a week and then 3-4 runs a week with drills in there. So quite a busy week, and then obviously fitting in physio, working with the sports psychologist, nutrition, all the rest of the stuff.
What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to start with getting into sport and fitness?
Someone who is demotivated, I would tell them to set little goals. Sometimes, a big goal can seem quite overwhelming. Not even necessarily goals, because you might not know what direction you want to go in, but just setting yourself challenges, day in, week in, month in, whatever work for you.
But just giving yourself some kind of focus and something to aim for can get you back on track. Particularly now, it is quite tough and I think the biggest thing is having something to work towards and not thinking too far into the future, just thinking about the here and now and keeping yourself in the present.
So I guess my biggest bit of advice is, you don’t lose anything by trying. So give everything a go and you might just end up loving it.
Are there any people, books, or experiences that you would be willing to share with us, that have really helped shape your mentality?
I have had many experiences throughout my life which have shaped me mentally, I think experiencing failure has taught me a lot about myself and I know that I’m a very outcome driven person so I often fixate on that gold medal, which is obviously completely out of your control. So, it is trying to take that back and think about being the best you can be and not judging yourself on external factors or gold medals, but actually on personal bests.
Obviously, this is slightly harder now moving into triathlon because there isn’t really a personal best because every course is different, so you do judge yourself a bit more on position. But yeah one book that I read that I really enjoyed was ‘The Happiness Trap’, that definitely focusses a lot on confidence, and where you get your confidence from and analysing your values and staying true to them. And if you do that day in day out then you are achieving your best.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to take their passion and turn it into a successful business/ career?
The biggest thing I have learnt from my sport is that things don’t always work out and you’ve got to be resilient, you’ve got to be willing to be knocked down ten times, one hundred times, whatever it might be, before you finally get what you want. Don’t be put off by people, I think particularly as a women it’s so easy to have imposter syndrome and just always think you’re not good enough, or your ideas aren’t good enough, but just have that bit of belief in yourself… and that will take you a long way.
What other interests do you have outside the world of sport?
My biggest interest outside of sport is definitely food. I love food, I love going out to eat and trying new foods, trying new restaurants, it’s something that myself and my boyfriend spend a lot of time doing at the weekends.
Enjoy going to the theatre, spending a lot of time with friends and family is something that’s really important to me, and just doing things that completely take you away from the big bubble of sport.
Are there any specific principles that you try and live by?
The three principles I probably live by, or maybe more values, are balance… this is something I’ve learnt throughout my career, that balance is essential. There’s been too many times where I’ve become so obsessed by the sport I’m in, and forgot about friends, family the things that make me happy so trying to ensure that I still maintain those values and still spend time seeing friends and family. It’s hard when you’re so involved in something to not want to do it all the time and give it 100%, but you can give it 100% but then make sure you dedicate time for you.
So then alongside that it would be the other two values of friends and family and actually making sure that I give that time to seeing them. So it’s probably all in one principle really.
What are you goals and plans for the future?
Future goals… obviously in the immediate future it is Tokyo 2021 so that is my main focus and my biggest goal right now, and going there and being the best prepared on the start line and hopefully the result will take care of itself.
After that I don’t know right now, still I would love to carry onto to Paris and compete at a 6th Paralympic games. Obviously, I want to make sure I’m still enjoying it and I’ve still got that love for the sport. As soon as you lose that it’s time to retire. So right now, that is my goal. But we’ll see how the next few years go and take each year as it comes and obviously, I still have to be good enough, which hopefully that’ll be the case.
Outside of sport, one day I’d love to run my own business and those ideas are still going on in my head and I’m not 100% sure exactly what it’ll be, but I’d just like to be my own boss.