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5 April 2019

Written by Tommaso D’Orsogna

The Ones to WA-tch

WA swimmers take on the rest of the Nation starting this weekend at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australian Championships in Adelaide (7 - 12 April).

For the first time, the Australian Championships won’t be acting as the trials for this year’s benchmark international swimming competition. This year, that benchmark competition is the World Championships to be held in Gwangju, South Korea, and selection will be taking place from 9 - 14 June in Brisbane. However, this weekend will still host Australia’s fastest swimmers, emerging from a gruelling summer training block and ready to post some eyebrow-raising times in preparation for a jam-packed year of competitive swimming.

It’s an exciting year for both swimmers and fans of swimming (myself included) with the introduction of the new FINA Champions Swim Series to directly combat the potential International Swimming League (ISL) events to be held later in the year. The days of slow, ‘in-season’ racing are gone with the mouth-watering prize money that is being put up for these events. Swimmers will need to make the most of every opportunity to swim fast this year. Either to gain selection to one of these events or to practice and refine their race skills in what is shaping up to be a hotly competitive year in the lead up to the big show in Tokyo next year. These new competitions will provide the opportunity for essential high-stakes and high-quality racing for those athletes looking to put together lifetime best performances at the Olympics.

Of course, the usual WA Dolphins will be there, Blair Evans, Holly Barratt, Zac Incerti and Brianna Throssell, all members of last year’s Commonwealth Games team, will be looking to put in some steam-generating performances in the pool in the lead up to the World Championship Trials in June. Evans enters as the top seed for the 400m and 200m IM, Incerti is ranked 2nd in the 50m Backstroke, Throssell sits 2nd and 3rd in the 200m and 100m Butterfly, respectively, and Barratt, the veteran sprinter, goes in as top seed in the 50m Backstroke and 2nd in the 50m Butterfly. Each of them will be looking to gain momentum at the Australian Swimming Championships this month as they taper for the World Championship Trails.

Plus, we have a new addition to the WA swimming family in QLD born butterflier, Grant Irvine. A Dolphin and Rio Olympian, Grant will be competing at his first nationals as a West Australian with the UWA West Coast Club. Ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the 100m, 200m and 50m Butterfly, respectively, Grant will be also looking to use the Australian Swimming Championships to build momentum as he tapers for the World Championship Trails.

UWA students Alex Milligan and Ashton Brinkworth will be vying for spots on the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. The second largest multi-sport event behind the Olympic Games, the Universiade celebrates its thirtieth iteration. Unlike other countries, Swimming Australia doesn’t recognise this as a ‘benchmark’ competition, yet the swimming competition will be nothing less than world-class. In 2017, the Universiade in Taipei saw several 2016 Olympic gold medallists, such as Italian distance champion Gregorio Paltrinieri, back up their performances from Rio to claim golds there as well.

For the young guns, this competition is a selection event for the Junior World Championships being held in Budapest, Hungary. Sprint youngsters Jemima Horwood and Kara Broadbridge will be looking to secure their spots and cement their places as ones to watch for the future.

Five WA Multi-Class swimmers, including Australian Dolphins Katherine Downie and Ben Popham, Para-Olympic Medallist Joshua Hoffer OAM and multiple national age record holder Tegan Reder are all making the trip to Adelaide to compete at the 2019 Australian Swimming Championships.

With just over a year to go to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, it’s time to get invested in Australia’s premier Olympic sport and there’s no better event to ignite your passion for swimming than the Australian Championships. So, get your tickets and get over to the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre in Adelaide or keep those eyes locked on 7Two from April 7 to catch these WA super fish lighting up the pool. 

 

17 January 2019

Written by Tommaso D’Orsogna

Top Tips for Performing on Race day

 

Five Focus Points For Fast Swimming

 

The Hancock Prospecting WA Swimming Championships start this Friday. Running over three days, this competition will showcase the fastest swimmers in the state. This will also be a chance for some of our established champions and national team members to practise racing before they head off to the Australian Championships to secure a spot on this year’s World Championship team. So, even if you’re competing, don’t forget to watch some of the action in the pool! You may learn a thing or two.

 

For those who are racing (and even those who aren’t), here are a few tips to get the most out of yourself:

 

1. Keep focused on the process, not the outcome

 

Races aren’t won by thinking about winning. Races are won by executing race plans and staying focused on the job at hand. Work with your coach so you have a clear plan of attack. Keep it simple and stay focused on executing it. If you stick to your race to plan and carry it out, you’ll always achieve the best outcome possible. You’ll never be disappointed with swimming the best you could have, regardless of outcome.

 

2. Don’t worry about what is out of your control

 

It’s easy to fall in to the trap of worrying about how othercompetitors are going to swim. What time will make it in to the final? What time will win? But this is all out of your control. Don’t worry about timeline changes, don’t worry about relay selection, don’t worry about qualifying times. How well you swim your race is in your control. 

 

3. One bad race doesn’t mean a bad competition

 

We all make mistakes. Go out too easy, go out too hard. Bad races are a part of the journey. They’re a part of the learning experience. But just because you had a bad race, doesn’t meanthe rest of your races will be bad. Trust in all the hard work you’ve put in. You’re fit and ready to race. The ability to turn things around after a bad race is the sign of a true athlete on the path to success. “Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.” - George Bernard Shaw.

 

4. Recovery is a priority

 

Remember this is a three-day competition. It’s likely you’ll be swimming more than once, so remember to recover between events. Racing can be exhausting, both physically and mentally, so it’s even more important to keep your focus on recovering between swims. The excitement (or disappointment) of our results can often be a distraction from us getting on with our cooldown or re-fuelling. Get in to your post-race routine as soon as possible and focus on your next event. Find out how your friends and teammates went after you’ve done what you need to do. And, don’t forget to bring snacks to refuel and rehydrate! (A second towel is always handy for those that have many swims in one session)

 

5. Don’t forget to have fun!

 

Take the pressure off. We can get so caught up in performing we forget why we do all this in the first place. Because we love it! So, enjoy the experience, take in the cheering crowd, support your teammates and friends, celebrate your wins and learn from your losses. Remember, it’s just sport.

 

Win or lose, we learn the most about ourselves as athletes in competition. Remember that this is a learning experience and you are in complete control of how much you learn. Believe in yourself and in the work you’ve done. Take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them. Regardless of how the competition goes, you’ll wake up a better swimmer because of it. 

 

Good Luck!

 

 


 

 

 

21 December 2018

Written by Tommaso D’Orsogna

Just keep swimming…

The New Year is nearly here, and some may be tossing up the decision to keep swimming through another year. Here’s why you should.

 

Exams are over, leavers (or “schoolies”) are done, the new year is fast approaching. So what happens next? Should you keep swimming?

Yes. Yes, you should.

I am fortunate to have found the right combination of coaching, support, training and talent to be able to compete for Australia on the biggest stages of our sport. For those that find themselves in the same position, the answer is easy for you. Keep pushing, see how far you can go, you’ll never know how successful you’ll be until you stop. But this post is for those that might not ever make an Australian team or those that may need a few more years to get there. Local WA swim star Holly Barrat is a great example of how perseverance pays off. She made her debut on the Australian swim team at 29 years of age.

So, maybe you just need a little more time, a little more training, a little more maturity. But it’s not all about making teams that makes continuing with swimming worthwhile. Some of my greatest memories are from travels not associated with the Australian team. Training camps, Mare Nostrum tours and World Cups are just some of the opportunities available to all open level swimmers. This is especially so now, with the potential development of the International Swimming League (ISL) and FINA’s announcement of a “Champions Swim Series”.  There will be even more opportunities outside the usual benchmark competitions and these changes suggest that good things are on the horizon for swimmers around the world.

For those that have chosen to go to university, there is the World University Games, the Universiade. This is the second largest multi-sport event after the Olympic games. Locally, there is the opportunity to compete at the UniSport Nationals, which is now focused on becoming the premier multi-sport event in Australia.

The decision to keep training will be hard and the training itself will be harder. Nothing that is worth doing is easy. In my career, I made an Olympics, and I missed one. I know the ups and I know the downs. It’s the downs where we learn most about ourselves. When times are tough, when there’s nothing left but that little voice that says, “keep pushing”, that’s when we get a little stronger and a little smarter. Knowing your limits is the first step to breaking them. That’s what swimming will provide you with. An opportunity to test yourself, physically and mentally. An opportunity to grow as a person and to know yourself better. It will teach you discipline, work ethic, comradery. It will teach you how to win, and how to lose.

Swimming will do all of this, if you let it. All it requires from you is your commitment. Swimming, and the opportunities that it provides, will only ever make up a part of your life. But the experiences and the skills that you develop, will last you a lifetime.

So whatever decision you make, trust it. Whatever path you choose, it will be the right one because you chose it. I may not be able to convince you to keep training, but maybe I can make you think a little harder about it.

After all, you may regret giving it up, but you’ll never regret giving it a shot.

Written by Tommaso D’Orsogna

 

Short Course, Short Changed

Short course racing is often overlooked in swimmers’ calendars, but is it the short course competitions that are missing out, or is it the swimmers?

 

 

The FINA World Championships (25m) are just around the corner. However, you would be forgiven for not knowing when or where they are (December 11th-16th, Hangzhou, China just FYI). Swimming Australia doesn’t tend to put much emphasis on short course, let alone the World Short Course Championships, so high profile Australian and even international swimmers tend to give these championships a miss. But with high-level international racing so sparse here in Australia, is that really the best decision?

Having competed at four of these Championships over the years, I can attest to the high standard of competition that exists there. I raced against Olympic and World champions, even world record holders. Australian swimmers often only get one major international swimming competition a year, making the opportunity to compete at another major international competition even more valuable. We spend so much time training to improve ourselves in competition that we often overlook the importance of actually competing. Short course racing rewards those that have worked hard on perfecting core skills such as starts, turns and dolphin kicking. It provides an opportunity to perfect these skills beyond what is normally possible in long course racing. It’s no surprise the USA excel in all these areas given their heavy reliance on short course yards racing, an even shorter course.

The World Short Course provides swimmers with the opportunity to hone their skills under pressure, both in and out of the pool. Travelling overseas, managing your thoughts and emotions, taking care of your body before, during and after the competition, these are also essential skills that are only perfected with practice. Any swimmer that has been on a few teams will tell you that performing doesn’t just come down to what you do in the water. These championships have always been some of the most enjoyable teams for me. The environment is indeed a little bit more relaxed, a little less pressure, but everything still runs exactly like a long-course World Championships, just few days shorter. In a few days of high-level racing, you’ll learn more about yourself as a swimmer than in a few weeks of training. That’s a guarantee.

This year will feature American superfish, Caeleb Dressel, among other established Olympic and World champions from around the world, including Ben Proud (GBR), Ranomi Kromowidjojo (Ned), Chad le Clos (RSA) and Katinka Hosszu (HUN), just to name a few. It would be erroneous to claim that these championships will showcase anything less than world-class racing. Fortunately, Swimming WA has two swimmers in the 20 strong Australian team who will be taking on some of these water Titans. Nic Brown, WA’s own up and coming butterfly champion, is making his Australian team debut along with sprint-star Holly Barratt, now a regular face on the Australian Swimming Team. Fellow Aussie champions Mitch Larkin, Emily Seebohm, Cameron McEvoy and, making his much-anticipated return, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, will also be along for the ride.

These championships also provide a stepping-stone for aspiring Australian swimmers. Many swimmers over the years have made their debut for Australia at the World Short Course and then have gone on to make even more teams. WA’s Brianna Throssell made her debut at the 2012 World Short Course Championships in Istanbul, going on to then become an Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative.

So, for all the swimmers out there, turn it up and give short course a fair go. You never know how things might turn out for you.

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