Swansea-based Georgia started swimming at the age of six. Now, at 21, she will be representing her country at the London 2012 Olympics for Team GB.
Laura Rowe talks to the 5ft 8in athlete about her home town, her sport and her fridge…
What events will you be competing in at the London 2012 Olympics?
I will be swimming the 100m backstroke. Hopefully I will also be swimming on the 4×100 medley relay but this is to be confirmed after the individual races are swam.
When did you first begin to take sports seriously?
I have always been really active and as a child/teenager I competed in several different sports. I was always competitive and wanted to do well. I started swimming in a club around 10, and went to my first British championships at 11. I won my first medal (a silver) there in the 100m backstroke aged 12.
Have you always had to watch your diet?
When I was younger (before puberty) I could eat whatever I wanted – and I did! Because of the amount of training I did I had to take in a huge amount of calories a day to keep my energy up and I never gained weight. But as I got older I learned the importance of eating the right kind of foods to get the best energy and to stay lean. We are lucky enough to work with a nutritionist who gives us advice on what to eat to aid recovery and to stay strong.
What is the optimum diet for a professional athlete?
I don’t think there is an optimum diet. It depends on the individual and also what sport they do. I think it also differs within swimming depending on whether you do sprint events or endurance. I tend to eat a lot of meat especially chicken, and fruit and vegetables. I love sweet potato and have that as my carbohydrate quite often at tea time.
Is food fuel for you?
When I think about preparing my food, I do think of it as the quality of fuel I’m giving myself. If I eat well, then I should have better energy to train. But I also really love food, so I try and make it interesting. Both my parents are good cooks and always gave me healthy but interesting food.
Are there any naughty foods that you treat yourself with?
Unfortunately there are a lot of naughty foods that I love. It takes some will power to only have them now and again as treats though. I love chocolate the most.
Are you a good cook?
I have only lived away from home for the past 10 months, and since then I have really enjoyed cooking for myself. I think I’m quite a good cook and I like experimenting and trying new ideas. I like cooking for other people, too, it’s more fun and social. I think I take after my dad in that sense. He has always been the main cook at home and makes up all kinds of new recipes.
What is your food heaven and food hell?
I’m not a fussy eater at all, I will always try things and very rarely don’t like it. One thing I have always hated though is liver. My mum used to make a liver casserole and I used to leave all the meat. My food heaven is too hard to narrow down. I often try to make a top ten of my favourite foods and even that is challenging. I like food from all different cultures, not just British food. There is a great Japanese restaurant where I live, and I love sushi. Also Vietnamese is one of my favourites. But on a sunny day I love a barbecue and loads of salads.
Q. If we opened your fridge now, what would we find?
My fridge has milk, yoghurt, vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, beans, carrots), a giant box of blueberries, some chicken and some salmon, and some orange juice. I also have a pot of light mayo, some salad stuff, and a jar of pickled onions.
You were born in London, what brought you to Wales?
Although I was born in London, my whole family have always lived in Swansea. My mum used to work in an advertising company based in London but when I was born we moved back here so that I could be brought up with my family around me.
Do you like Welsh food?
I like some Welsh food, especially Welsh cakes! And lamb with mint sauce is my favourite for Sunday roast.
Where do you like to eat out in Swansea?
Where don’t I like to eat out in Swansea! Wasabi is a great Japanese restaurant. Also this little local restaurant called Vietnam is amazing. There is an amazing restaurant in the Mumbles called Patricks; I went there for my birthday last year. Also La Brasserie and La Parrila are great. We also have a French restaurant called the Pant-y-Gwydr. I tried snails for the first time there.
Do you shop locally for food?
I do most of my shopping at the major food stores such as Tesco or Sainsbury’s but I often buy meat from the local market.
What are you going to eat during the two weeks of the Olympics?
I haven’t heard anything about where we will be staying in the Olympic Village, but I have spoken to the British Swimming nutritionist who has showed us a menu for the food court on site. By the sounds of things there will be so much choice, to ensure that all the athletes from around the world can eat what they usually would in their home environment, to ensure we can all perform to our best. It will be nice to not have to cook for ourselves and to have such a wide range of food available.