Charlotte Henshaw targets Paralympic paracanoeing medals after retiring from swimming

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Mansfield swim star Charlotte Henshaw wants to add paracanoeing medals to her impressive haul after retiring from the pool.

Henshaw announced her retirement from competitive swimming on Tuesday as she looks to fully focus on her new sport.

The Nova Centurion athlete won a silver medal in the 100m breastroke SB6 at the 2012 London games and a bronze medal in the same event at Rio 2016.

She also won gold medals in the 2009 and 2016 IPC European Championships and silvers in the IPC Swimming World Championships in 2010 and 2015 during her distinguished career.

But she says she is not done yet as she looks to bag more titles in her new surroundings.

“I’m fortunate to have this oportunity to explore a new sport and it so happens that I’ve really enjoyed it and I seem to have picked it up very quickly,” she said.

Paracanoeing feels right, it’s still water, but on it not in it. The team are based in Nottingham and it feels like it was meant to be.

“I heard that they were looking to expand the squad, it’s a new sport and in the Parlamypics now.

“They did very well and are successful and that was why I wanted to join the team. I’d not entertained the idea until coming back from Rio when I thought it was time to start looking for another opportunity.

“I knew I didn’t want to give up competing, but I needed a new challenge and followed up on those leads.

“I’d love to think I can get to another Paralympics and get a medal. I need a gold medal to complete the set, it would be amazing.”

And Henshaw, who was awarded the freedom of the Mansfield district in 2016, is confident she can use her experience to help herself and Team GB flourish.

“It’s nice to be able to pass on my experiecnce to the GB team,” she added. “I’ve been competiting for a long time and have built up experience and physical strengths and met many people that I have learned from.

“It’s suprising how many of those aspects you can pass on, even if the skills of canneong are new to me. The team have been very welcoming to me and they are already a successful squad and very professional.

“I still feel I can be competitive, it’s not an easy sport to do and very competitivce to even make the team.

“At the moment I’m not putting any pressure on myself and neither are Britsh Canoening.

“We will see what the next few years hold. If iI can compete for GB it will be a bonus and that is what I want to happen.”

But naturally swimming will always be a big part of Henshaw’s life and a career that she looks back on with great pride.

“Retiring from swimming is a mixed bag of emotions. It was hard to step away from something that has been my life, but it was the right time to make the decision and step away,” she added.

“London 2012 was an incredible moment when I won my first Paralympic medal. it was just lucky that a home games fell at the right time in my career.

“There have been a lot of highs and a lot of lows. I know things don’t come easy and they don’t go the way you want them to at times.

“The disappointments help you learn and I feel privileged for the success that I have had. The disappointments have made me stronger and will help me going forward into something new.”