Bristol swimmer Katie Dawkins stays on course to compete at 2012 Olympic Games
KEYNSHAM synchronised swimmer Katie Dawkins has moved a step closer to achieving an Olympic dream by making it through the latest round of selection trials.
Dawkins, 23, survived the cut to make it into the Great Britain squad of 13 ahead of next year's Olympic Games, and is now preparing for the last selection phase next year when the nine-woman team for London will be finalised.
"I was really pleased with how I did," said Dawkins, who trains full-time with the Great Britain squad in Aldershot.
"I came third out of the group, so I kept my ranking and feel like I'm on course to make the team. There are 13 of us left now and only nine of us will go to the Olympics, so it is an important time for all of us.
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"I'm obviously delighted to still be in contention to make the Olympics, but it is difficult when you see other girls disappointed when they don't make it through.
"It is a team sport, but, at the same time, we're also competing against each other to try and achieve our dreams of going to represent Great Britain at an Olympic Games in our own country.
"I think you learn to deal with seeing people, who become good friends, leave. It sounds harsh, but you have to focus on yourself and just get on with it because it is such a competitive sport."
The final selection trials are scheduled to take place at the newly-built London Aquatics Centre in March – before the real business gets under way at the 17,500-capacity venue next August.
"We went to the Aquatics Centre as part of the 'One Year to Go' celebrations in July," said Dawkins. "It took my breath away – it really is an incredible place. The amount of seats there is amazing. I think the support is just going to be crazy.
She added: "When I moved to Aldershot to join the squad four years ago, the Olympics seemed a very long way off.
"Walking in to the Aquatics Centre really brought it home to me that the Olympics is just around the corner now. It is a really exciting time for all of us."
Dawkins recently returned from a training camp in Florida, where the team finalised their Olympic Games routines and will be going on to compete at the international trials next year.
As a host nation, however, Great Britain do not need to qualify for the main event and will be joined by seven other countries, the identity of whom will be determined at the trials.
"We are already guaranteed our place at the Olympics, but we're still going along to compete as further preparations for when the real business gets under way in London.
"It will give us another chance to compete against the best synchro teams in the world and will also offer us an opportunity to get some experience of competition at the actual Olympics venue.
"We did a lot of work in Florida on our routines for next year, so we have got the basics down now.
"We'll probably add or change little bits here and there, but we are almost there.
"It has been a good year for the squad. We came ninth in the World Championships in Shaghai and we managed to beat the USA for the first time in a long time. It was very encouraging.
"There were 24 teams competing, so it was the biggest World Championships for quite some time. A lot of the countries will be competing at the Olympics next year, so it was a great test for us and gave us a good indicator as to where we need to be."
Dawkins returns to Keynsham from the High Performance Centre to see her family for a day or two each month. She will be able to enjoy a rare extended stay over the Christmas period.
"I'll get 10 or 12 days off," said Dawkins, "but with the Olympics coming up next year, I'll have to go easy on the festivities!"
Katie Dawkins is a member of the British Gas GBR Synchronised Swimming Team. British Gas is supporting initiatives to give everyone the opportunity to enjoy swimming. Visit www.britishgas.co.uk/swimming