Lara Butler has realistic ambitions of representing the Cayman Islands as a swimmer next year at the Rio Olympics, which is why she is making the most of her final long vacation before the exhausting months of preparation start in a couple of weeks.
Butler went on a family vacation to Orlando on Monday and then it’s back to Loughborough University in the U.K. on Sept. 8 for pre-season training.
It has not all been lazing about on the beach for Butler, 20. She did the 800-meter swim and 2-mile run in the final Stroke & Stride last Wednesday just to tick over. She has also been going to the gym twice a week and playing tennis with the family.
What awaits her at Loughborough is pure swim training, “hard and intense,” she said, under coach Ian Armiger, who was swimming’s technical director in Cayman for a year before returning to the U.K. a couple of years ago. Butler is fully focused on her swimming but also aware that her academics are supremely important too.
“I’m making sure of balancing my academics with training, as education is vital – it will one day be your career, therefore you can’t put it aside no matter what.”
Her mantra is, “Try your hardest in everything you do – never do it half-heartedly.”
It’s been a hectic summer for Butler as she competed at the Island Games in Jersey, then went to the Pan Am Games in Toronto before competing at the world championships in Kazan, Russia.
At the Island Games, Butler won three silvers and a bronze. Her favorite medal was the 400m individual medley, “as it is one of the hardest events, and getting the silver was a great accomplishment.”
She is already a veteran of four Island Games, the previous ones being Aland (2009), Isle of Wight (2011) and Bermuda (2013).
“My ultimate favorite was Bermuda, not only because of how amazing the island was, but earning a few golds was incredible,” she said. “Hearing the national anthem on the podium was such a special moment and achievement.
“Jersey was incredible also, having a much bigger team travel with us made the atmosphere a lot more exciting and energetic.”
Butler has been in the U.K. for four years. She did two years of school in Plymouth before going to Loughborough.
“I really enjoy England,” she said.