July 21, 2022
Elijah Winnington returned from the Tokyo Olympics a shattered swimmer questioning his future in the sport, but 12 months later he is a very different 22-year-old.
The icing on his redemption cake came at the World Championships in Budapest, where he mowed down his more imagined opponents in the 400m freestyle.
“It was a sense of joy and relief, as well as a sense of accomplishment,” Winnington said.
“It gave me confidence that I can still perform on the world stage and that the progress I’ve made over the past year is working. I think that was probably my biggest advantage of the event.”
Winnington is now ready for his next international challenge, the Commonwealth Games. He will start in the 200m, 400m and 4x200m relay.
When asked what he would consider a pass at Birmingham, he said he’s already passed because he knows he’ll enjoy the experience.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that when we go out and compete with these teams, it really has nothing to do with medals or times and stuff,” he explained.
“The things you remember are the relationships you’ve made and the experiences you’ve had. That’s what I did at the World Championships and of course it worked out the best.
“It’s not a feeling of not caring, but it’s about just letting go and whatever happens is already going to happen.”
It also didn’t hurt that he was able to catch up with the European summer during internship camps in Spain and France.
The Dolphin Squad was given four days to get out of the water when they first arrived, so he and several teammates went to Barcelona where he let go of his hair and relaxed.
Winnington will race on three of the six days of the Commonwealth Games swimming schedule.
He knows he’s made all the preparations he can and doesn’t worry about who’s racing next to him on the track.
“I am completely focused on myself. I have no control over what anyone else is going to do, if they are going to do a time that is faster than what I am doing in the day then that is good for them,” he said.
“I’m just going to worry about myself and make sure I’m not only in the best shape I can be, but I’m just going to love the experience because that’s what I’ll remember when I go home.”
Winnington plans to resume his Bachelor of Business studies in semester three. He said having a degree will be crucial once his swimming chapter is over.
“It’s a really good distraction for me. It’s something else, working hard in a way that isn’t physical. I enjoy having a routine, so when swimming isn’t so hectic it’s nice to have that flow that comes from college.”
His parents and girlfriend will cheer him on in Birmingham before enjoying a well-deserved break in Europe after two months apart.
Then it will be full steam ahead for Paris 2024.