After winning a gold medal in the Paralympics and setting a new world-record time for the 100-metre breast stroke in the summer of 2012, Maja Reichard spent most of the autumn studying. She is one of 59 athletes to receive the 2012–2013 Elite Athlete Scholarship from the Swedish Sports Confederation and Svenska Spel.
Tell us about your life at the moment!
"In addition to my swimming career, since 2011 I have been enrolled in a programme that leads to M.Sc. in Engineering in Energy and the Environment at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. During the spring, when preparing for the Paralympics, I opted to enrol in some of the easiest courses in order to manage school and swimming. I would train once or twice a day and take part in quite a few competitions. It was intense and I was tired and worn-out but it is great to combine a sport that I am passionate about with an education that can provide me with a future once my athletic career comes to a close."
What does the scholarship entail for you?
"The scholarship gives me SEK 20,000 per term, which allows me to study half-time while simultaneously focusing on swimming and having time to recover. Focusing on an elite career is expensive and holding a job in addition to my school work and sports simply isn’t an option. I have to eat a great deal and there are competitions and camps that provide a great escape where you meet others who are doing the same sport and come into contact with great coaches. The scholarship also gives me access to a dietician who helps me plan how to consume a sufficient amount of energy to endure both training and studies."
What are your plans for the future?
"After lying low following London, I now really want to start swimming again and this spring, I will increase my training regime again. My sights are set on the World Championships in Canada in August. My goal for 2013 is to get there and perform well, primarily in the 100-metre breast stroke. I feel substantial pressure to perform, particularly from myself!"