Stephanie Millward, MBE – Double Paralympic Championadmin
For those that don’t know me, or my story, I’m Stephanie Millward and I was British Champion at 100m Backstroke, aged just 15. By 17 and just before the Sydney Olympic Games, I was diagnosed with MS – that was just over 20 years ago.
The journey to become a double Paralympic Champion, along with 8 Silver and Bronze Paralympic Medals, along with 700 other swimming medals, including multiple World Champion ones, has not been an easy road, but that is a story for another time.
In just under two years’ time, I intend to compete for Team GB at my 4th Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020 – and I am expecting to add to my tally of 10 Paralympic medals (5 x London 2012 and 5 x Rio 2016, including 2 Golds). This will be my last and I anticipate retiring from competitive swimming in Japan.
In 2017, the euphoria of being awarded an MBE, having Corsham’s pool named after me and being given the ‘Freedom of Corsham’ were countered by the news that, because of my medical classification (S9) & age (35), British Swimming no longer considered me a “medal contender” for Tokyo 2020 and cut my £1,000pm National Lottery Award after returning from Rio 2016.
For the last 18 months, through a combination of giving swimming classes, individual coaching and long 8-hour shifts at Budgens, Box – earning the minimum wage – I have been a self-funded athlete and remained ‘swimming fit’. This said, with 2-years before Tokyo 2020, I need support – to reduce the work hours / shifts, thereby dramatically increasing my energy levels and maximizing pool, gym and recovery time.
Although there are no specific details, British Swimming has confirmed their British Trials will take place in Glasgow, at the end of April (25 – 28 April 2019) and I anticipate this to be the Selection Race for the World Championships in Malaysia in July 2019. Historically, the Selection Policy is announced in early in the New Year, but all expect automatic qualification places will be available for the Winner & Runner-up in the ‘S9’ 400m Freestyle.
As I am no longer a funded athlete, nor in the British Swimming funded programme, I will be responsible for all associated costs with the British Trials – these include Entry Fees, getting to Glasgow, transit and city travel, accommodation, use of any services (physio, massage, etc. whilst away from Bath) and, potentially and ideally, taking my coach to the event too. This is a one-off event, which I must compete in. If I gain selection for the 2019 World Championships, the squad will be paid for by British Swimming – and the ‘worlds’ will be a qualifying event for Tokyo 2020.
Part of my story involves spending two years training towards my AAT Certificates, prior to starting as a Paralympic swimmer. This gave me ‘academic’ purpose, whilst coming to terms with my illness and allowed me to follow my passion for numbers and interest in accounting. Over the years, I have been given a number of Bookkeeping roles, including with Wilts Electricals, Eduserve, Virgin Phone and still currently with my swimming club, TeamBath AS.
I am enormously grateful to Training Link for offering me the opportunity, whilst I train and prepare for my 4th (and definitely final) Paralympics in Tokyo 2020, to refresh, upskill and further qualify in their excellent AAT training courses. This is so important to me, as I hope Accounting will become my 2nd-career, when I retire (hopefully in Japan) from Swimming.
Thank you to all involved in Training Link – your support is both important and will undoubtedly make a huge difference to my life. Thank you.