Part 1: Training for the 2018 Commonwealth Games – what it really looks like

20 weeks out from competing on the world stage at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Since my last post, my shoulder pain worsened, and I received the diagnosis that I have tendonitis in my shoulder. This means we had to be really careful about loading so last week I cut out all upper body weights, and after doing a hard session on Monday night, we had to keep it fairly easy for the rest of the week, with only small hit outs on Wednesday and Saturday.

Today was the day I had been lining up for, and rested quite a bit over the weekend and went for a little surf yesterday to stay active. Felt pretty good swimming this morning, shoulder felt good, except for when I started to try and put some strength into my stroke. Kept it pretty short this morning, only swimming 3km, and integrated some activation into the session to prepare for tonight’s session.

I came home and there was a big day of watching basketball today. As you will get to know, I am an avid NBA fan!

I got ready for training, and on my way got stuck in traffic which was pretty annoying as I had been planning on getting to training early to ensure I had enough time for my shoulder rehab. Jumped in feeling okay, but still whenever I tried to really use my strength through the pull part of my stroke, my shoulder was bit sore. I finished warm-up, and started the main set. I did 4x20s max with a sponge, which is like resistance training in the pool. The main focus was to work on my start and underwater kicking. Then we dropped the sponge, and did 5×25 dive max. By removing the resistance, you try to crank up the speed. I did three backstroke, but it wasn’t feeling that good, so I switched to freestyle. Then to finish I threw on my fins, and we tried to extend the efforts out to 50m and maintain the intensity. I ended up doing 2x50s and by the end I was really cooked. Didn’t feel great, but I still got some work under the belt, and just trying to stay positive that even though it didn’t feel good, the times weren’t bad. I battled through swim down, as my lactate was absolutely bubbling, and I felt pretty sick. Finished off as the last person in the pool, and then went home for the usual Monday dinner, of steak and sausages. Shoulder was a little achy after the session, but went home and iced it and it stopped aching after that.




Woke up feeling not too bad after last night’s session, which was a bit of a surprise, but I had a pretty good sleep so that helps. Gym is modified again this week with no upper-body exercises, so the focus is on shoulder rehab and legs and abs. It was still a pretty hard session, and I was in there for almost two hours. I went for a swim at the beach afterwards, but it wasn’t particular nice conditions, so it was a pretty quick dip. Then I was off to the shops to get the groceries for the week.

I had physio this arvo, so we did a little bit of work on my left shoulder. My left scapular is slipping out, and with tendonitis in my sub-scap, I got my first rib released, and through my lat, and sub-scap. It felt a little bit better after treatment, but was still a little bit tender, which is to be expected. It is a bit frustrating, but I definitely feel like I am progressing, and it is getting better.

I went straight to the pool, and after such a leg and ab dominate gym session, I had a big focus on releasing my hips and glutes before the session. Also did a little bit of shoulder activation. The session was mostly a recovery session. Started with a long 2km swim, just swapping between fins and pull throughout. Then we went into more specific breath control work. We did 8x50s, with the first four you go down and hold your breath for 15, 20, 25 and 30 seconds before each 50 and then try to go the 50 with as few breaths as possible. I did each 50 with only one breath. Then the next four 50s, I took 0 breaths in each 50. It was pretty hard, but good practice to try improve breath holding. After that, we did a little bit of kick, and that was 3kms.

Came home and cooked lamb chops for dinner, before sitting down and watching an episode of Narcos.


Training was pretty good this morning. I went a bit further, did 3.6km, but I felt pretty good in the water, and it was nice to do a bit of a longer swim. The session was aerobic based, with a solid 1.8km at around a 150 heart rate. I jumped out feeling like I had definitely done something, but still felt pretty fresh. I went home and quickly had breaky before going off to the dentist then massage.

With more emphasis on my legs and abs in the gym (shop Ben’s gym kit here), my massage was focused on loosening up my hips and back. It was mostly used as a flush to get any residual soreness and fatigue from Monday and Tuesday, and to help me prepare for tomorrow. I came home and watched a bit of NBA. The Knicks had a good win as well as the Spurs. I am really enjoying watching Kristaps Porzingis play at the moment, as he is so young and taking over a team. Seeing how that new leadership has led to him playing so well is inspiring to me; I love that ability to rise to the challenge, it is very admirable.

I was off to training, and got there early to do my shoulder rehab, and stretching following my massage today. I had a pretty easy session since we had decided to space out my quality sessions a bit more to help my shoulder, but the rest of my squad was back at it. They had a pretty tough set tonight, but all did a pretty good job. It is a bit funny just cruising up and down when the rest of your team is getting pumped by a hard session, but I just try to focus on myself and do what I need to do. I have to keep reminding myself that I am doing everything I can, and trust that this is the path to success. It is the hard thing about elite sport, and especially swimming, you train so much for one result, and you need to keep doing everything consistently to your best to get that result. Even if, like at this stage, that means taking a step back to recover, I know it is what I need at the moment, and hopefully tomorrow I will be ready to go, and smash out a really good session.

Trying to get to bed early tonight, have a big sleep in and be ready tomorrow. Fingers crossed my body is working with me, but regardless mentally I will be ready.



Hoping for a big sleep-in but it was a bit of a failure. It took me ages to get to sleep and then woke up at six, and just tried to snooze till eight. Regardless, it was nice to not have to get ready and rush off to gym or swim. I got up and had breaky, then did a little bit of stretching and activation. I spent probably 45mins on my roller, stretching, doing some core activation, and then going through my shoulder rehab exercises.

I did a little bit of research this morning, as I had a meeting about possibly getting some work experience. As my first chance to meet these contacts I was a bit nervous, but I think it was pretty positive, and hopefully something good comes of it. I feel like I am ready to start getting set up for a career after swimming, and having finished uni, I enjoy having something outside of swimming to provide me that balance. It is pretty exciting times for me, and just hoping for the best.

I finished up my meeting, and went straight to the pool. I was feeling pretty amped up after the meeting, and so I had to really try and calm myself down as I started my session. I was feeling pretty good, so we decided I would suit-up and do a couple of time-trials. Again, feeling good in the water, it was really important to try and settle myself down, and relax to ensure I got the best performance out. I never swim well when I am over stimulated, so it was my main focus to warm-up and then calm down. I went pretty good. My first 50 time-trial, I went 25.10, and followed that up with a 25.2. It was pretty consistent and felt not too bad. To finish the session I did two more 25m efforts, but I was starting to fatigue, and my speed started to drop off, so we pulled the trigger and ended the session.

Another exciting thing today is that my girlfriend is flying up for the weekend. She lives in Wollongong studying medicine, so it has been five weeks since we have seen each other. It is pretty rough living apart, but at the same time very important to us that we both chase our dreams. So I am looking forward to enjoying the weekend, with only a couple more sessions left.


This morning’s session was mainly aerobic with a little bit of descend work. The rest of the squad was preparing for a hard session tomorrow, so they pushed a bit harder, but my main focus was to flush out any lactate left over from yesterday, and start recovering and preparing for the next session. With me coming off a hard session yesterday, my shoulders were a little bit sore, so I kept the intensity down a little to try get my shoulders back feeling good. After the 3km session, I went straight to the gym.

My gym, while limited to abs and lower limbs, was still pretty hard. I had four core leg exercises, super-setted with two ab exercises. So it took about an hour and half, and then I was off home for a second breakfast and chill.

With my girlfriend up for the weekend, we decided to go out for lunch. We ended up at Canteen in Burleigh. I went straight to physio after lunch, and got some more dry-needling in my lat, and back of my shoulder. It’s definitely feeling better than last week, but a slow process to get back to 100%. Swimming with sore shoulders is nothing new, but it is important to understand the difference between swimming through pain that isn’t going to make it get worse, and stopping to ensure it has a chance to get better.

From physio, my girlfriend and I hit the road and drove to Brisbane to have dinner with her parents and watch her little sister swim at club night. It was pretty cool going back to a small club night, and seeing these little kids racing, and the enjoyment they get from swimming. It kind of reminds me what swimming used to be like, and why I started swimming in the first place. We had a nice dinner and dessert, then it was back on the road to get home before training tomorrow. Bit of a late night, but it is important to spend time with my girlfriend and her family, so sometimes, that balance needs to shift towards family over swimming.



I woke up pretty tired this morning after a late night. I went into training, pretty buggered, but did my activation, and didn’t feel too bad swimming, except my shoulder was slightly irritated after getting needled yesterday. So we decided it was best not to push it, and just did a bit of the main-set kick. I went 4×50 on two mins kick hard, then a bit of swim off, and another 3×50 on two mins kick hard. Just doing backstroke kick, I was holding 37 seconds per 50 and then I finished up the 3.5km. It is a difficult balancing act, dealing with a shoulder injury, as well as keeping the big picture in mind, and staying fresh to train at the intensity I need to be at.

After training this morning, I came home and had breaky, then my girlfriend and I decided we would go for a little drive down to Bangalow. Having never been, it was pretty cool to check out a small country town. We had lunch at a lovely little café looking over the green country-side, and hit the road back to the Goldy. We hung out in the arvo, and watched some Scrubs, before heading up to Broadbeach to get a few things for my girlfriend and catch up with my friend Tom.

It was a pretty quick catch up as I was starting to crash from the late night and early morning, so we ordered Thai take-away for dinner, and came home to watch a movie and were in bed by 9.30. Pretty relaxing Saturday night, but was needed after a big week.



Woke up this morning around eight, so a pretty good sleep-in, and then had breaky. We decided we would head down the coast, down to Kingscliff and check the surf. By the time we got down there at 10.30am, the wind had gotten up, and after thinking about it, we decided it was best to give it a miss, and go back up to Coolangatta, and try have a surf there. I went out for about 45 minutes, just to turn the arms over, and it was pretty fun. I’m still just learning to surf really, but I got one good one, and it was nice to out in the water and sun. I would love to have stayed out way longer, but had to call it quits so I don’t burn myself out for training tomorrow.

We came back home, then after going back and forth decided to head back to Burgster for lunch. With my girlfriend up, we splurge a little, going out for meals, but next weekend will be more disciplined.  Came back home after lunch, and just hung out, before dropping her at the airport. It is pretty hard on the both of us living separately, but we are both living in the places we need to be to achieve our dreams, and will see each other in another 5 weeks times, when she finishes semester. I rediscovered House of Lies on Stan, and watched a couple of episodes before getting ready for training tomorrow, by doing some cupping and rolling, and then going to bed. Important training day tomorrow, before racing on Saturday next week.