My Road To USA!
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My name is Matthew Oaten,

I have been selected to represent Great Britain Deaf Swimming team, participating in the World Deaf Swimming Championship in Texas, USA! So I thought I’d tell you my journey…

Sat 22nd / Sun 23rd November
British Gas Para-Swimming, Disability National Swimming Championships
I entered in 4 races, and there I must perform to qualify for the GB Deaf swimming team selection for the World Deaf Swimming championship.
My races were: - (including performance times and other comments)

  • 50m freestyle
  • 100m freestyle (under 1 minute as new personal best timing)
  • 100m breastroke (New personal best time)
  • 200m IM

My GB coach then has confirmed he will be selecting me to participate for the World Deaf Swimming Championship, and I was so delighted at the news, and I started to undergo a regime of hard trainings to prepare for the event.

Sat 29th / Sun 30th November
Essex Senior/Junior Winter Championships
My races were: -
50, 100 and 200m freestyle,
50, 100 and 200m breastroke
I did brilliant swims in that weekend achieving 3 good personal bests, which I was pleased with!

Fri 5th/ Sat 6th December
Club Championships
I thought I’d enter in various races to monitor my performances across the board and to learn which races would suit me more. However I managed to achieve new 9 PBs, which I was really elated!
Training Fatigues, Exam revisions, and increased trainings!
With Exams approaching, my revisions at home also increased together with my swimming trainings. This is the example of my usual day (5 times a week): -
4.45am – wake up
5.30am – swimming training till 7.00am
8.00am – school till 3.00pm
3.45pm – home to do the homework, and exam revision
5.30pm – Land training at my local sporting village for 45 minutes
6.30pm – swimming training for 2 hours
9.00pm – home for a bit more study before retiring to bed.

Nevertheless my passion remained to perform at the highest level, and I also trained at home with some land trainings, weights and using medical ball to hone my body for swimming. At time I felt fatigued but with the help of my mother’s cooking, she made sure I remained at tiptop condition!

January/ February
Every weekends, swimming galas and Essex Championship
Across January till the end of February; nearly every weekend I had the Essex County Age Group Championships. I qualified for 6 events; I came out with 4 PBs in the end, which I was really delighted with but was slighted annoyed with my 50m freestyle as I got 27.01 which was a PB but was so close to sub 27!

Fri 13th / Sat 14th / Sun 15th
Deaf Nationals / Gold medal
My family and I set off to Loughborough for the Deaf National Championships!
Friday night, - 2 hours training session with the GB team.
Saturday - I entered in 5 races, and came out with 2 PBs under difficult racing conditions. After each race, I only had about 5 mins of rest before I swam the next race! I achieved 1 gold, 2 silvers and 1 bronze! That evening everyone in the team chilled out and got a chance to know new swimmers in the team, I absolutely loved it! Next day, we all had 1 hour of land training where we all did some exercises and some games, after that we had 2 hours training in the pool before we set back home!

East Regional Championships/ injury!
I was delighted to be selected to compete at the East Regional Championships for the relay events! Unfortunately I could not attend to the meet due to illness and a slight injury! I had a strain in my groin, so I didn’t want to risk my self to put me out of training and competing for at least 3 months! So I took a rest, and started to attend to occasion physiotherapy sessions to gradually make it 100% better!

Summer Club Championships gala
On 12th June, I had a Summer Club Championships gala, which I thought I should participate to keep myself in the racing spirit! I entered in 4 races and I came out with 3 PBs that I was over the moon with my 50m freestyle as I finally broke the 27 seconds barrier with a time of 26.75 seconds! I was knackered afterwards considering I’ve revised and sat down for my exams and trying to prepare for the gala at the same time.

East Region swimming championships
2 days later I had another East Region swimming championships gala! I has my name down for 4 races, 50m, 100m freestyle and 50m, 100m breastroke. It was tough for me as I haven’t been training much, but I came out with a PB on my 100m breastroke that I have been trying to break for about 1 year!! So I was pleased with that!

17th June - At last my exams are over!!! Which means it’s time for me to enjoy myself training hard in the pool and keep improving with 2 more competitions to compete in before the big one!

GB training camp weekend 11th and 12th July
I went to Crystal Palace for a GB training camp weekend. On Saturday morning, I had 2 hours training in the pool, my GB coach wanted to see how good our fitness level were. Then we all had lunch back in the lodge, after that we were back training again! We did 1 hour of land training, we did lots of different stretches in different areas of our body to improve our flexibility. Then we were back in the pool again for another 2 hours hard training in the pool! In the evening the team chilled out with a small game of football outside, it was surely quite competitive!! On Sunday morning, I had to get up early to have my breakfast then go down to the pool for out last 2 hours training session of the weekend! We did a bit of practice on relay takeovers preparing for Texas and worked on our turns. Overall it was a brilliant weekend, seeing everyone again and meeting new swimmers!

World Deaf Swimming Championships, San Antonio, Texas, USA 2015

oaten 2On Friday 14th August, 14 swimmers, 2 coaches and numbers of excited parents and supporters met at Heathrow early morning. Everyone was all excited and prepared to go! We flew from Heathrow to Houston, which took 9 hours. Then onto a coach for 6 hours to San Antonio! We finally arrived the hotel in the evening at 7pm. We all went to bed straight away to catch up on sleep!

On Saturday morning, we all greeted and had breakfast with most of the National swimmers from 32 countries staying in the same hotel.  We all then headed out to inspect the pool. It looked amazing, sitting next to American football stadium and athletics stadium! The outdoor pool was beautiful and very elegant; it made me want to dive in and race as soon as possible.
We got to train in the pool, to get the feel of the water and the heat. The weather was baking hot as the average temperature was around 39C and we has to shaded under the one of the gazebos as the team was worried the heat may hindered our performances. We had 3 hours training session, including polishing up my starts and turns.  We also have to practice with the starting lights at the blocks, as we cannot hear the starting bell. It worked very well for our teams.

The Competition
The next day, Monday, was the first day of the competition. There was so much buzz and anxiety among all the swimmers in the breakfast room. We all hopped onto a yellow school bus to drive us to the pool, once we all got there, we all started our stretching routine to warm our muscles up then did our own pre-competition warm ups. I was selected for 50m, 100m freestyle, 50m. 100m breastroke, and 50m butterfly for the meet.

-100m freestyle, I managed to achieve 0.5 second PB with a time of 1.00.75, which I was pleased with! I was aiming to go sub 1 minute but it was my first big race of the meet, and perhaps the nerves got better of me… at least I got it out of the way, and so pumped up for the next race.
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-100m breastroke, I achieved a smashing 3-second PB with a time of 1.23.50, but unfortunately I got disqualified because I was doing tiny bit of front crawl kicks in the end of my breastroke kicks. I accepted it and had to move on and focus onto my other races.


oaten 4- 50m butterfly, this event was not my strongest event however I achieved a 2 second PB with a time of 33.76, I was surprised how fast I went, to clock my new performance time! Perhaps this is another event I could add onto my future races.



- 50m freestyle,
I raced and kept it to my technique and shaved off my previous personal best time with a 0.2 sec and made it as my new PB with a time of 27.42!  I believe I can continue to improve my performance further.



- 50m breastroke,
I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, as I didn’t get a PB, this was due to tiredness of racing all week.


On Saturday, the last day of the competition, the men 4x100m freestyle relay was in the final seeded 5th. My GB coach decided to put me down in the team to give me the experience of what swimming in a world championships final would be like. I was really pleased he gave me that chance. I thought to myself, it’s the last race just go for it. And I swam my race 100m freestyle in a time of 58.9 seconds! I was elated as I finally broke the one-minute barrier, and we came 4th in this race, just missing out a podium position! I will be relishing this moment.

After 6 days of hard racing and months of training, we were rewarded with an amazing closing ceremony and banquet! I made so many friends from around the world such as Americans, Australians, Japanese, etc. This experience will never be forgotten. I certainly have learnt lots of new tips and advices from the top swimmers. Now training starts again for the new season coming up and hopefully more achievements!

Many thank you to families, friends, coaches and sponsors who supported me from the start to finish. With all your continued support, I’m bound to bring a medal home one day!

Thank you for your support!