David Gold: The swimmer with a chlorine allergy aiming for London 2012
Monday, 26 December 2011
It may sound as unlikely as a squirrel with a nut allergy, but he has gone to great lengths in order to overcome this obstacle.
"I've been seeing a breathing specialist to help me train more to my potential," Alari-Williams told insidethegames. "[Chlorine] triggers my asthma so if I train in a heavily chlorinated pool my breathing starts to go and my throat closes.
"Seeing a breathing specialist has really helped as I have some techniques to do before and after the pool, and we measure how much oxygen and carbon dioxide I exhale. From those records we can see if my ventalin is actually helping, previously I took [it] with no impact but with their support I've moved up my dosage to allow me to train longer and harder."
In March, the 18-year-old will be competing for the right to represent his country at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the swimming test event at the Aquatics Centre, hoping for the chance to race alongside the likes of Michael Phelps next year.
"I'm hopeful for the Olympic trials but if I don't get in there is always the next one and the one after - my main aim is to enjoy the atmosphere." Alari-Williams is grounded, and knows that he is more likely to make it to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.
"2016 and 2020 will realistically be my stronger Olympics but a home [Games], the opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd will be amazing if I qualify.
"I've just finished school last year and whilst there I couldn't train as much, the quality was less than this year because I was tired from spending seven to eight hours for five days a week in school. This year I'm on a gap year before university and the ability to relax between sessions means I can train so much harder.
"Prior to that I trained but not at 100 per cent so with a couple more years of good quality training I'll be in better form and that's why 2016 will be my best [chance]."
Alari-Williams is ranked number two for 100 metres breaststroke in his age group, and won gold, silver and bronze medals at the 2009 UK School Games. His talent is such that he has been selected for the British Swimming World Class Development Programme, though he has to knock almost three seconds per 100m off his personal best times to qualify either in the 100m or 200m for the Olympics next year.
Alari-Williams (pictured) adds that the achievements of the likes of double Olympic gold medal winning freestyle swimmer Rebecca Adlington and 10k open water world champion Keri-Anne Payne have given young British swimmers role models and the impetus to believe they can make it in the sport.
Their exploits in recent years have raised the profile of British swimming and now youngsters like Alari-Williams are using them as proof of what is possible in the pool. Out of it, the youngster is clearly just as sharp, as between his bid to reach London 2012 and Rio 2016 he could be picking up a mathematics degree from Oxford University, which he is set to begin next autumn.
The teenager may be quite an outsider for next year, but if he doesn't make it to London 2012, he may not have to wait too much longer to make an impact on the world stage.
David Gold is a reporter for insidethegames. You can follow him on twitter here.