As a future Paralympic swimmer balancing the demands of homework and a rigorous training schedule, Col Pearse (9B) is achieving his dreams one stroke at a time.
In late 2016, Col was selected as a member of the Australian Paralympic Development Squad; a milestone in his journey and greatest accomplishment thus far. Since his selection, Col occasionally trains with an elite group of para-athletes, identified as potential candidates to join the Australian Swim Team at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
‘There are 10 of us that are part of a big squad that meet up and train together,’ Col explains. ‘It’s for teenage swimmers that aren’t ready for the Australian Swim Team but are building towards it – we’re the future Paralympians.’
After losing his foot in an accident at an early age, Col has never looked back and strives to achieve more each day. ‘Learning how to swim again was probably the most difficult experience in my life,’ Col says. ‘Having two feet was what I was used to and once I lost my foot it was hard to re-adjust.
‘But I guess I’m someone who doesn’t like taking the easy option; I like taking the hard option. I always feel like I can achieve more than what I have to date. Col Pearse (9B)
Classified as an S10 swimmer under para-swimming classification, Col is building on his speciality stroke – butterfly. ‘I swim 50m and 100m butterfly, and I’m working toward 200m. Right now my best is 100m fly,’ Col says.
In order to maximise his possibilities of securing a place on the Paralympic team, Col and his family made the decision earlier this year to relocate him to Melbourne from his hometown, Echuca, after finding a specialist coach to train with at H2O Swimming Club.
‘I train eight times a week for two hours each session; before school, after school and on weekends,’ he says. ‘At first, it was a bit difficult waking up at 4.30 in the morning but now I’m getting used it.’
With the help of his sister, Ashleigh, Col is able to balance school and swimming. ‘We have knuckled down on homework during the weekends, and if not, I’ll probably have some late school nights finishing homework,’ Col notes. ‘My teachers do understand though.’
Despite his stellar performances in the pool, swimming wasn’t always second nature for the 14-year-old. ‘I wasn’t really into swimming when I was younger – I was more of an all-rounder with basketball, footy, cricket and swimming. I only swam for fun but as I got better, I realised this is my sport, I’ll do this,’ Col reflects.
Fast forward to today, Col has a myriad of achievements under his belt in addition to selection for the Development Squad. He currently holds nine S10 Australian Age records, five School Sport Australia Age records, five School Sport Victoria Campaspe records and four Echuca College Records.
‘Earlier this year at the Australian Age National Swimming Championships in Sydney, I won one gold, six silver, swam seven personal bests, and claimed seven age national records S10, 14 years and under,’ he says. ‘It’s definitely one of the most rewarding experiences in my life because it shows I can keep getting better.’
We look forward to watching Col progress as he moves closer to his goal of swimming at Tokyo 2020. His determination and discipline is an inspiration to us all.