Kayla's keen to race fast
BEFORE leaving for the London Paralympics, Ipswich swimmer Kayla Clarke admitted being a bit scared about the international journey ahead.
A few nerves were understandable given the Silkstone competitor was heading for her first Paralympics.
However, if the last few days are any indication, Clarke is relaxed and ready to take on the world.
Preparing for her first swim tomorrow night (Queensland time), Clarke has impressed her coach Rick Van Der Zant.
"I've stayed in contact with her probably every second day and even sent her a text message this morning," Van Der Zant said.
"She's really going well. She's really positive, really happy with what's happening over there."
While not making the trip to London, Van Der Zant senses Clarke is feeling great. She moved into the Games Village having completed a lead-up camp with the Australian team in Cardiff.
"She loves the dining hall, loves where she is staying," Van Der Zant said.
"Everything is really good."
Having worked with Clarke for a year, Van Der Zant noticed she was homesick on an overseas trip late last year.
"She went to America for a big competition and it was just text message after text message: 'not sure what to do, what do I do now'?" he said.
However, the Yeronga Park head coach has noticed a different approach in London.
"This time she's really comfortable," he said.
"She likes the (Australian team) coach that is looking after her over there. He's following the programs that I've set for her, which is really good.
"She's in a real good frame of mind and her coach tells me that everything is going well."
Kayla's mum Paula and some family members are also in London to cheer her on.
As an experienced coach, Van Der Zant said it was always pleasing receiving such upbeat reports from overseas.
"Everything she's saying is in a real positive tone," he said.
Clarke trained the morning of her flight to London.
For months before, she had maintained nine sessions a week in addition to four gym workouts and massage and physio.
"She's the most dedicated female I've probably coached in the last 10 years and I've coached a lot of kids," Van Der Zant said.
"In this day and age, it's very hard to get any swimmer committing themselves like Kayla has.
"She's had a good preparation.
"She's had a few niggly injuries along the way but nothing that hasn't been sorted out pretty well straight away.
"She's in the best shape she's ever been."
Clarke opens her Paralympics campaign with her favourite event, the 100m backstroke, tomorrow night (Queensland time).
The dedicated swimmer is ranked number two in the world for that event in her S14 class.
S14 competition is for athletes with an intellectual impairment.
Kayla Clarke's Paralympics program in London:
- Tomorrow night (Queensland time): 100m backstroke heats, final Saturday morning.
- Sunday night: 200m freestyle heats, final Monday night.
- Thursday night: 100m breaststroke heats, final Friday morning.
Check the ABC for Paralympics coverage.