We first met with Mel back in November 2014 in the early days of the FCN to interview her about her coaching career so far and her ambitions for the future. She had not long won a coaching award making her the first female coach to ever win British Swimming’s Coach of the Year Award. From the very beginning of our interview, it was apparent that we were speaking with someone very special in the coaching world.
Before her coaching days, Mel had been a very successful swimmer, so successful in fact that to this day she is still one of Britain’s most decorated swimmers with 6 Commonwealth Games Medals, 5 European Medals, and 3 World Championship Medals. She is also a two time Olympian and in 2004 was ranked World Number 1 for the 200m freestyle.
After the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, Mel announced her retirement from competing and moved into coaching, soon becoming the Head Coach of the City of Derby Swimming Club (UK). She started working with the British swimming team and has since been named as an elite coach by UK Sport.
In our interview with Mel at the end of 2014, she explained her ambitions for her future coaching career:
“I just want to keep helping athletes and finding the answers that are needed to help them get the most out of their performance. I’m not interested in big bucks or big jobs, I just want the opportunity to help athletes realise their potential.”
And on the night of August 8th 2016 at the Rio Olympic Games, Mel achieved that exact goal…she helped one particular swimmer to realise his ultimate potential as her athlete Adam Peaty won 100m Breaststroke Gold in a World Record Time.
Adam Peaty stormed to 100m breaststroke gold and a new world record to become Team GB’s first medallist of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The world champion touched in with a time of 57.13, his second world record of the weekend, to become the first British man to win an Olympic swimming gold since Adrian Moorhouse at Seoul 1988.
Making his Olympic debut in Rio, Peaty had been untouchable in the heats and semi-finals, setting his first world record of 57.55 in the former.
The 21-year old continued his dominance into the final, coming home more than a second and a half clear of the field with Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) winning silver and Cody Miller (USA) taking bronze.
“The idea of making the team but not pushing the team forward was not really an option for me. Me and my coach push forward every day. I’m not going to settle for just this. I’m going to push forward – I’m sure every gold medallist says this but me and Mel operate differently and we are always pursuing excellence and self-improvement. If we’re not doing that I don’t really see the point.”
Adam speaking immediately after winning
It is fair to say that Adam and Mel have a unique and successful coaching relationship, one that dates back to when Adam was a young teenager.
“Mel and I have a unique relationship. Seven years ago when I couldn’t drive, she’d drop me off at college after swimming and go through an hour of traffic just to get me there. Our bond was formed through those journeys. So sometimes we just talk about rubbish and then at other times we have a good chat about where we’re heading. She embedded an idea in me where I could believe in myself and would perform. I think those chats have been very beneficial to us. And once it’s game time we’re a very professional and very efficient team.”
Adam Peaty speaking about his Gold medal winning
relationship with coach Mel Marshall