Updated: May 22, 2020
Reflecting on Commonwealth Games gold ... ‘the pinnacle of my career’
April 5, 2020
(Article written by Swim England)
Two years ago today, Aimee Willmott got Team England’s swimming campaign at the 2018 Commonwealth Games off to the perfect start with a golden performance in the first final on the Gold Coast.
Here, Willmott reflects on the 400m Individual Medley success that was a decade in the making – a triumph she describes as the pinnacle of her career.
When Aimee Willmott flew into Australia’s Gold Coast, she feared it would be her last ever taste of international competition.
So, determined to make the most of it, she vowed to not let nerves get the better of her and, instead, enjoy every single moment.
Despite swimming a lifetime best of 4:33.01 in the 400m Individual Medley in Glasgow four years earlier, the disappointment of being pipped to the Commonwealth Games gold was still strong in the memory.
And Willmott was desperate to avoid that feeling again.
“I was so upset with the silver medal in Glasgow,” said the 27-year-old University of Stirling swimmer. “I did not enjoy being on the podium.
“In Australia, I thought whatever colour medal I won, I won’t begrudge it – just enjoy it. That was the thought process going through my head.
“At the time, I thought it might have been one of my last international meets – I wasn’t sure where my career was going to go and I was a little bit nervous about that.
“So I thought I would try and have fun and, whatever the result, I should be happy with that.”
Whatever will be, will be
It proved to be the perfect plan.
After qualifying from the morning’s heat second behind defending champion Hannah Miley in a time of 4:39.19, Willmott arrived for the first final of the swimming competition in a confident mood.
“I went away [after the heats], tried to recover and rest and not think too much about the final,” said Willmott. “I tried not to over think things – whatever will be, will be. Whatever result I get, be happy about it.
“My coach said before the race you can do this if you want it. I stood behind the blocks and felt really confident – I was going to just give my best and see what happens.
“I just thought pace it correctly. It’s not what time I get but what colour medal I come away with.
“After the first 300m, I was in a really good position. The first thing I thought was do not do the same as last time.
“In Glasgow, I tried to win at 300m and went massive in the first 50m of the freestyle but Hannah went past me.
“I had a quite good turn for the last 50m and felt the adrenalin kick in as I was going for the wall. I knew it was a battle between me and Hannah as there was no-one in the outside lanes challenging – but I knew it was close.
“In the last 25 metres, I thought I was edging a bit further away with each arm pull. I could just see Hannah’s hands rather than her head.