Behind the scenes at Rio 2016 with Elinah Phillip

Elinah Phillip. Photo: BVIOC

Elinah Phillip. Photo: BVIOC

Monday was a busy day for Elinah Phiilip, the BVI’s first swimmer in any Olympic Games. With four days to go before competition day, the 16-year old conducted a successful interview in the ESPN studios at the International Broadcasting Center before she headed out to one of the training pools for her midday session with her coach, Benoit Grattepanche.

The venue was busy with swimmers either getting ready for a race that day or working through their competition training routine.  Starting off with warm up exercises pool side, Elinah found a lane and plunged into the water for a couple of laps to loosen her limbs.

Elinah, a year 11 student of Bishops Stortford College and a member of Bishops Stortford Swim Club, alternated her routine from swimming with training aids and resistance bands, to concentrating on form and a few pacing laps.

Elinah Phillip and coach Benoit Grattepanche at the training pool at Rio 2016. Photo: BVIOC

Elinah Phillip and coach Benoit Grattepanche at the training pool at Rio 2016. Photo: BVIOC

Benoit, a French national, is a former competitive swimmer who uses the same training methods he had been coached with to coach Elinah. “It’s a proven method and Elinah has improved on her time since we switched her training regime, on average, shaving off 1 second of her previous performance in the 50m.”

Elinah Phillip training at Rio 2016. Photo: BVIOC

Elinah Phillip training at Rio 2016. Photo: BVIOC

The training programme is based on daily goals which are set on results generated by a swim app created by Benoit to help analyse form, style and speed. The carefully planned schedule of exercises will be rolled out over the next few days until competition time on the morning of Friday, August 12.

Elinah will be swimming in Heat 6  – an indication that she has moved up in the ranks. Her performance times set her in the middle range of speed for all the competitors in her category.

In her last pace lap, Elinah puts in a strong performance that pleases both coach and swimmer. After a couple of cool down laps, Elinah exits the water for her post-training session with Team BVI’s physiotherapist, Matt McGrath.

Elinah Phillip at Rio 2016. Photo: BVIOC

Elinah Phillip with Team BVI physio, Matt McGrath at Rio 2016. Photo: BVIOC

“I feel good,” said Elinah. “I felt strong and comfortable in the last pace lap I did and I’m happy with how this afternoon’s session went. I won’t sleep when I get back because that interferes with my ability to fall asleep at night but I’m going to relax before this evening’s training.”

After three hours of rest, Elinah will return to the training pool where Benoit will be expecting her to put in some hard work before she gets back to Olympic Village for a good night’s sleep.

Elinah Phillip with physio, Matt McGrath and coach Benoit Grattepanche. Photo: BVIOC

Elinah Phillip with physio, Matt McGrath and coach Benoit Grattepanche. Photo: BVIOC

Mom, Tracy Bradshaw is at Rio 2016 as Elinah’s chaperone and recalls the story of a four-year old Elinah who, when learning to swim with Kids And the Sea (KATS), would cling to the side wall and refuse to let go telling the instructor that she was “only small and the pool is too deep” for her to stand up in. It would take another year  (and a little reverse psychology) before Elinah finally let go of her fear and end up swimming her way to the Olympics.