Nostalgic Eindhoven return for Charlotte

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As the scene of her first ever IPC Swimming World Championship medal in 2010, it is fair to say the Pieter van den Hoogenband Stadium holds fond memories for Mansfield swimmer Charlotte Henshaw.

And as she prepares to return the same Dutch venue for next month’s IPC Swimming European Championships, she will be looking for more of the same as she steps up her preparations for Rio 2016.

Four years ago at the World Championships in Eindhoven, Henshaw set a new European 100m breaststroke record on the way to qualifying for the final and where she would claim silver.

That qualifying swim remains her best to date as she has failed to better that personal best mark of 1:38.46 minutes in the four years since, including at the London 2012 Paralympics.

And with just the one major international gold medal claimed so far in her career – the European 100m breaststroke title won in 2009, Henshaw admits it is about time she started updating some statistics.

“I’m hoping getting back in that pool and with muscle memory and all that, I can put in another strong performance,” she said.

“I’m 27 now, you are not going to be breaking personal bests all of the time as you get older compared to the young swimmers but just to be around your personal best is a decent showing.

“I would love to be around that mark this time. I would love to stand on top of the podium, and if I could do that in a quick time that would be an even bigger bonus.

“Although obviously the main focus is on Rio and putting in some big performances there. As long as it’s a good stepping stone and a good benchmark for things to come then I will be happy.

“You just never know what is going to happen on the day, you can only control what you can control, but I’m feeling pretty confident.”

Not long after the Eindhoven waters have settled Henshaw will be able to relive some of her fondest Paralympic memories as she looks to star once again in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

This time it is for National Paralympic Day on 30th August - a festival that celebrates the success of Britain’s disabled athletes while also aiming to inspire the next generation.

And, having not had the chance to swim in the London Aquatics Centre since swimming to Paralympic 100m breaststroke silver two years ago, Henshaw cannot wait to be part of the fun.

“The opportunity to go back to that place and relive those 10 days again is amazing. I’m so excited to be going back, even just looking at photos makes you feel nostalgic,” she added. “I’ve not actually been back in the pool since London, I’ve been to the Park but not in the pool. London did a great job of putting disability sport on the map.

“I was a little bit dubious as to whether it could carry on, but to see the amount of time and energy being spent on things like the National Paralympic Day is very inspiring.

“It means a lot to be asked to take part.”

National Paralympic Day will be celebrated on Saturday, 30th August with a day of Paralympic sport and disability arts in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. To buy tickets for the Paralympic sport, log on to www.axs.com/national-paralympic-day. #NPD2014 is supported by Spirit of 2012.