Two-time Olympic silver medallist, Commonwealth champion and Speedo ambassador Jazz Carlin already has a wealth of achievements to her name. After a stellar season at Rio 2016, which saw the 28-year-old take silver in the women’s 400m and 800m freestyle, Jazz made her debut in open water swimming during the European Championships this August.
In the first of our Ambassadors Unfiltered interview series, with the world-famous athletes that represent our brands, we spoke to Jazz about her life in and out of the pool, her favourite items of Speedo kit and her support for the Team UK swimmers heading to this year’s Invictus Games.
How did you choose swimming as your sport, did you try others first, and where did you swim as a child?
“My dad pushed me to learn to swim as soon as possible, so as soon as I was allowed in the pool he used to take me every week. I was one of those kids who would have to be dragged from the pool with people saying, “It’s time to leave, get out!” I would have stayed there all day. I remember even in primary school I raced the head teacher a couple of times, just because they knew I was a keen swimmer and swam for a local club, so they wanted to challenge themselves, but I managed to get the win twice – I still remember that!”
You’re here in support of the competitors training for the Invictus Games. How did you get involved and why do you think it’s important?
“I’ve been working with Speedo for quite a few years now, and I think to have this opportunity is really special. Swimming’s always been a vital and massive part of my life, so I love to be able to help people to use it for their own reasons and hopefully be able to get the same kind of feeling out of swimming that I have.”
How do you deal with the psychological challenges of training and competing?
“Yeah, it’s tough, but I think that’s what makes it a bit more special. You have to do it for yourself and you have to do it on your own. Obviously, it’s amazing that I’ve got an incredible coach and people around me helping me. There are a lot of things, like when you’re growing up and temptations around your friends saying, “Can we go out?” and you have to say, “I’ve got swimming”. It’s making that decision, but it’s all been worth it and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.”
What do you do in your downtime?
“My downtime is the same as anyone else; whether it’s the cinema, or shopping – a lot of shopping! I’ve recently renovated my house; I’m actually doing an interior design course now! So that’s one of my passions, but I’m interested in all sports as well.”
You’ve been sponsored by Speedo for a number of years – why do you think this relationship has lasted?
“I’ve always loved Speedo. It’s been that one brand that I’ve always worn since I was a young girl. I’ve had such an amazing journey and it’s been nice to be able to share it with them.”
What’s your favourite item of Speedo kit?
“It’s got to be my costumes! It’s a swimmer’s dream to have all the different colours and styles. I still get so excited when I get a bit of kit sent to me! I have loads and I’m always trying on different ones. I guess it’s like most people’s version of shopping and getting a new outfit, just with swimmers and costumes. You get to express yourself and show a bit of your personality through costumes and I think that’s really cool.”
What does it mean to you to be a role model of swimming?
“It’s a bit crazy, really, even now! I just feel very lucky and fortunate to be in that position where I can help inspire. I think it’s so important to have female role models and people to look up to. It’s great for young girls to see sports role models in a positive way and using sport to inspire people, for their health and lifestyle.”
If you could say one thing to encourage people to take up swimming, what would it be?
“It doesn’t matter why you’re getting in the pool, because everyone’s in it for a different reason. Obviously, it’s great for fitness but also for switching off. There are so many different things that sport and swimming can help you with and you never know until you try!”