The athlete we are featuring this week is Boyana Kircheva. Boyana fell in love with swimming when she was 12 and basically hasn't left the water ever since. Although she was considered "late" to start with a new sport, her competitive nature allowed her to win numerous competitions and not give up on her dream! Some motivation, never hurt nobody, so make sure to read her feature to get inspired!
When did you get into it?
As a child, I did many different sports, such as athletics, volleyball, basketball, dancing, etc. I did each for a few months, but no sport was able to grab my attention until one day I signed up for synchronised swimming. I did that for a year and I really liked being in the water, but swimming appealed to me more.
After training for a few months I was allowed to compete in my first national competition, where I won a gold medal in the 50m freestyle. That's when I realised how much I love it and became passionate about swimming and still am to this day. I discovered my sport quite late (at the age of 12) compared to other children, but I quickly caught up and my hard work paid off.
What motivated you to start? Is there anyone you look up to?
I am very competitive and team sports are not for me, I prefer to depend on myself only and the work I put in. I apparently had the genetics for a swimmer and I liked to win. Swimming is magic which, once you fall in love with, there is no giving up and it will last for life. I have lots of idols, I admire all professional athletes because it takes a lot of hardship to get to that level and a set of qualities that few have.
In swimming, every one hundredth of a second is extremely important, eight people can finish in the ten hundredths, whereas in other sports that is not the case. It is an extremely competitive sport, every single swimmer has worked incredibly hard to get to where they are, so I admire everyone in the elite. Of course I also have my favorites like Yulia Efimova, Federica Pellegrini and Caleb Dressel.
What challenges have you faced so far?
Swimming doesn't involve many injuries, but the pandemic lockdown period impacted me a lot. It was quite difficult to come back and reach my best shape, but after a lot of work, I managed to get back to where I was.
I had another difficult period when I lost someone very close to me and mentally I wasn't present during training, however, that is why we are athletes, to be able to get back up when we are down and it is most difficult.
Did you have to make any sacrifices along the way? What kind?
As athletes, we sacrifice a lot for our dreams and goals, so we don't see it as a sacrifice, but as the path towards success. Personally, I don't regret a single sacrifice, because the final result was worth it. When we are younger we always think we are missing out on the fun, while our peers have a completely different lifestyle, but we are aiming at something bigger and when we get there, we are able to still have our fun!
How do you find fulfilment and what keeps you going?
I feel fulfilled every day I train, I know that I have given everything I have to be better. This feeling is incomparable. I don't give up, because you can always improve and learn to get better and I am curious to see how far I can get. I love both the victory and the journey there.
What are your goals?
Firstly, I want to improve my personal achievements, which will allow me to participate in bigger competitions. Of course, the final goals for any athlete is the Olympics.
What tips would you give someone who is just starting in your field?
Since swimming is a sport which you mostly start as a child, for children the most important thing is to make sure they are having fun and to enjoy being in the water.
What tools have helped you along the way?
Swimmers use different devices during training, the main ones are paddles, fins and snorkels. We've also used parachute, elastics and socks for quite some time. These are all devices that provide resistance and develop strength. I think they are quite useful.
And useful resources?
I'm very interested in athlete psychology, I've read a lot of autobiographies of great athletes. I have learned and applied many things from there. I watch various interviews and motivational clips of successful athletes, I think that psychology is 70% of the athlete's performance and development. You need to know and master your psyche in order to be able to win even in difficult situations, this of course builds on years of experience.
Where can we find you on the internet/social media?
I mainly use Instagram: @boqna.kircheva
Shop Boyana's Gear (178cm/67kg, wearing size L).