What sports did you play when you were growing up ?
When I was growing up I played soccer for 6 years, I played basketball for my primary school team. I was in the Waikato rep team for wheelchair basketball, and of course I was swimming for as long as I can remember.
How old were you when you first started seriously training for swimming and can you share a few memories about those sessions ?
I was 12 when I decided that I really wanted to pursue a career in swimming,I was swimming 6 days a week and doing everything I could to be a great swimmer. To start with I had no idea of the work it would take to become a professional and although I thought I was training hard it was nothing compared to what would come.
Why did you choose swimming ?
I was always into swimming and I realized it was a sport that I could keep up with my friends in. Because I am missing my right leg I was never very good at any sports that involve running so for me to find something I was good at compared to my peers was great. I was also picked by a talent scout at a have a go day when I was younger and thats why I joined my first swim club.
When you were an Age Group swimmer, was competing at National Events a real goal for you and did you have any medals ? If you did, can you tell us what they were for and how old you were ?
I always looked forward to competing at National events and when I was younger that was the focus for my entire year of training. I received many medals as an age group swimmer across a big range of Para events, my favorite being the 400m Free title which I won 3 years in a row.
When things are getting tough and training isn’t going so well – what motivates you to stay in the sport ?
Swimming Is a tough sport and the only people who truly succeed are tough people. When training is exhausting, motivation is low and I just want to quit I always ask myself why am I swimming? The answer is to become a world champion, that is my goal and always has been, I want to be the absolute best in the world at what I do. I get up every day and work as hard as I possibly can to full-fill this dream of being the best. I also love to challenge myself, so when times are tough and its hard to even imagine ever becoming world champion I remember that I am striving to be a better, stronger person. Swimming is a challenge and to get to the top level is one of the biggest challenges there are, this helps me push through the pain and the misery because I know that by the end of all this, I will be a better person.
Any advice for our up and coming young swimmers?
For any young swimmers starting out in the sport, remember to have fun, enjoy making friends, learning about how you react to pain and pressure, always push yourself, never just sit where you are comfortable. Try and work on a different aspect of your training every week, whether its your turns, underwater work, stroke length, anything! But most of all, never give up. If you commit to the training the hard work, the early mornings and you give your absolute all to every aspect of swimming you will achieve great things.
“I hated every minute of training, but i said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion” – Muhammad Ali