Ben Treffers – Why do I swim?

Swimming has always been a big part of my family, so to me, learning to swim was simply part of growing up.
My dad swam for New Zealand at two Commonwealth Games and two Olympics, winning Gold and Silver at the 1974 Commonwealth Games in Christchurch. On my mum’s side, my aunty competed at the 1976 Olympics for New Zealand, and then my uncle competed at the 1978 and 1982 Commonwealth Games for New Zealand and Australia. He transferred to Australia following the 1980 Olympics, which New Zealand withdrew from due to a national boycott. With such a rich history in swimming, it isn’t hard to see how I ended up swimming as well.
From before I could walk, I was in the pool and in swimming lessons. By age nine, I was swimming with a squad, and had started to swim competitively at school. When I was 12, I competed at the Australian Capital Territory school nationals. This was a turning point for me. I didn’t like being uncompetitive, and knew I had to dedicate more time to swimming if I ever wanted to be competitive against the best in Australia. I pushed my parents to allow me to attend more swim sessions, and at age 13, I was swimming 8-10 sessions per week. I enjoyed the training, the close friends I had in my squad, and I loved winning.

This only grew as I started training at the Australian Institute of Sport in a professional squad. While the training intensified and became more demanding, my passion for improvement soared. We used to write up all our personal bests from in the gym and in the pool. It created competition between squad-mates about who could achieve the most personal-bests in a week, and this drove me to a new level of performance. I thrived on the atmosphere of competing and improving. Every day I was improving and paving a path to a better performance in the future.


As a swimmer, I am defined by my performance and this can result in an unexplainable amount of pressure, with everything else in my life becoming insignificant. While I don’t overly enjoy this facet of swimming, the feeling of executing and getting everything right when the pressure is on, and coming out with a win, or a personal best swim, is difficult to match. The feeling of winning my first Commonwealth Games Gold, or winning Bronze at the World Championships, was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It was so hard to believe that it had happened.


I got into swimming because that is what my family did. I love swimming because I am addicted to continuous improvement. And I still swim because I still thrive on executing under pressure and coming away with that feeling of “did that really just happen?!”