Tom Dean has been a member of the hugely-successful British Swimming National Centre squad that trains at the University of Bath since 2018. He is also a Mechanical Engineering student at the University and is supported by a Bill Whiteley Sporting Scholarship as he pursues his dual sporting and academic careers.
Tom, who turned 21 on 2nd May, won 200m individual medley gold at both the 2017 and 2018 European Junior Championships and claimed his first senior title at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow. He went on to win six more medals, three gold, at the 2021 Europeans in Budapest in May.
Coached by David McNulty in the London 2012 Legacy Pool at the Team Bath Sports Training Village, Tom secured his place in the Team GB squad for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by swimming the second-fastest time in the world this year – and the tenth fastest of all time – in a world-class men’s 200m freestyle final at April’s British Swimming Selection Trials. He is one of nine Bath-based swimmers so far to have been officially selected for Tokyo. Here, Tom chats about representing GB, his gruelling training regime as well as the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming.
What will be the plan now before going to Tokyo and will your training regime differ the nearer you get to the Olympics?
We recently competed at the 2021 European Championships in Budapest, where the newly-selected Olympic Team got its first taste of racing all together. We are training hard in Bath between now and July until we taper down to begin racing in Tokyo at the end of July.
We are covering the health and wellbeing benefits of swimming. We know of many health benefits but how has swimming helped your mental health, especially during the recent pandemic?
I always find swimming a great help for my mental health. Despite all the stresses of the pandemic, when you are swimming you are switched off from the outside world and able to fully relax. I think it is almost like meditation in that respect!
What are your earliest memories of swimming?
Swimming has been a part of my life and my family's life for as long as I can remember. I can recall learning to swim when I was very young and loving playing around in the water with my brothers and sisters.
When was the first time you realised you could make a career out of swimming, and was there a race that stands out in your mind when you felt like a winner for the first time?
The first time I became European Junior Champion in 2017 in Netanya, Israel, I felt like I could make a good go of swimming becoming my career path. However, it was not until recently that the thought of achieving high-level International medals became a real possibility!
How often do you get chance to get out and about in Bath and where are your favourite haunts?
I love going out in Bath, I often head into town for a coffee and a cake at Mokoko by the Abbey but if I'm looking for food and drink it's got to be Vino Vino or the Hare and Hounds.
Is there a piece of advice you can offer any young swimmer to help them improve their technique or style?
Really focus on your technique and drills because that will be the foundation from which your swimming career will be built. You can train as hard as you like but without an efficient stroke, you're working much harder than you need to.
Finally, do you ever go to sleep at night and dream of the gold medal around your neck?
Qualifying for the Olympics has always been a dream of mine and the thought of a medal would be truly amazing. I don't like to overthink the outcome of competitions too much, I just like to train and prepare as best as I can and see what that brings!
You can follow Tom's journey to Tokyo via his social media channels - just click to follow:
Many congratulations on your recent selection for the Tokyo Olympics. First of all, how does it feel to be representing your country at such a major event?
It is a real honour to represent Great Britain at such a prestigious event as the Olympic Games. The Games are the pinnacle of our sport and to be selected after years of hard work is an amazing feeling.
We all know about the rigorous training regimes professional athletes keep but can you give us a breakdown of a typical day for you whilst in training?
A typical day for me will start with a 7am wake up. I'll then have a bowl of porridge and a coffee before heading to the pool for our pre-training stretching and mobilisation. I’ll do a swim session 8-10am, followed by a gym session 10.30-11.30am. Then I'll head back home for my second breakfast and a nap followed by lunch before returning to the Sports Training Village for our afternoon sessions.
This will begin with either Pilates, physiotherapy or soft tissue massage, or sometimes meetings with the British Swimming support team, followed by a core session and then into the pool for another two-hour swim. We train in the pool about 20 hours a week and cover anywhere from 50-70km per week. On top of that, nutrition is vital and I am consuming on average 7,000 calories per day.