Just like the 2014 Glasgow Games, this was a life changing experience for me, and while it’s hard to narrow down my top moments to just ten, I’m going to try.
1. Walking out for the final of the 50 backstroke
This is the key reason why I swim, and why I wanted to make the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Pressure on; lane four; home games; crowd roaring; the exhilaration of that moment is irreplaceable. In that moment, only 50 metres separated me from achieving my dream, and finally the time had arrived.
2. Winning Silver
Of course, I wanted to win, but to have swum the fastest time I had in three years, to go through all those challenges, and come out with a Silver Medal in the time I did, I was stoked. It took an unbelievable swim from Mitch Larkin to beat me, and had he not, he wouldn’t have gone on to make history, as the first athlete to get four individual Gold Medals in one games.
3. The Last Night of Racing
It had been an incredible swim meet for the Aussie Team, and on the last night were both the men’s and women’s 4×100 Medley Relay events. The Aussies were favourites, but not by much, and both were amazing races to watch and be a part of. We came from behind in both swims to just touch out Canada in the women’s, and England in the men’s. It was awesome.
4. Watching Josh Beaver win Bronze in the 200 Backstroke
Josh has been a competitor of mine for the last six years, but more importantly one of my closest friends on the team. He was more ecstatic for me to make the team, than I was. In the last 12 months, he has gone through some really tough times, and it was an achievement for him just to make the Commonwealth Games Team. And to watch him deal with all these challenges and come out and win Bronze, I couldn’t be happier for him. I had believed he could do it, more than he had, and to see that come off was incredible.
5. Home Games
Having my family and friends there to support me, made the games unbelievably special. The ones closest to you know and understand the amount of work, and the pressure I had put on myself, and for them to be able to experience that and for me to see them after was amazing.
Once all the swimming was completed, I was able to kick back and really enjoy the rest of the games experience. It is such a unique time in the athletes’ lives following a big competition. With all that work done, the team is able to enjoy being together. It reminds me a lot of the moment you finish school. Everyone you’re surrounded by has just finished such a momentous experience, and now you can relax and be together, and enjoy everything outside of the pool and being with some of your best mates. Everything from going out, attending events, supporting fellow athletes, going sailing, to just playing PlayStation, it was an incredible couple of days.
7. Support Fellow Aussies
After the Swim Team finished, I was able to get out and watch a couple of other sports compete. One night we went to the women’s basketball semi, another we watched the boxing, and I saw the women’s hockey Gold Medal game. I love sport, and it was amazing to go out and support other Australians compete.
8. The Food
After a few days of eating from the dining hall, the food can start to taste pretty bland. But the organising committee did a really great job with the village and set up an Australian BBQ. There were burgers, lamb chops, pulled chicken, salads and bread, it was so good. And then on the last night of the swimming and last night of the games, we came back to the village and had party pies, sausage rolls and lollies. Such simple pleasures.
9. Gold Coast Parade
Well the closing ceremony definitely wasn’t a highlight, but the next morning the Gold Coast put on a parade for the Australian Team. It was really amazing to see all the support, talk with the fans, and hear about what a positive impact the games had been on the community. To think your performance could have inspired someone to try a new sport, or set a new dream, is such a positive benefit of elite sport.
10. Welcoming Ceremony
A tradition amongst Commonwealth Games Teams, is to bring the entire Australian Team together for a function a couple of days before the games begin. At these games we had two inspiring poems delivered to us by an Australian Poet. The first poem reflected upon the amazing opportunity we had in front of us, while the second, detailed the honour of being an Australian Flag Bearer at the Commonwealth Games. The atmosphere was electric, and his delivery was motivating.
These games won’t be the last time I race, I have decided to head over to Europe in June to race in a series called Mare Nostrum. I race in Canet-en-Roussillon, Barcelona and Monaco. It just turned out to be too good of an opportunity to turn down, and the chance to race in Europe and then have a holiday off the back is a great way to finish my career.
After that race, I am going to spend two weeks in Europe travelling to Portugal and Italy with my partner. I am really looking forward to enjoying some sun, eating some delicious food, and exploring these countries. Also, I am currently on the job search (I actually had an interview last week). I am really excited about a career outside of the pool and am super keen to be challenged in a new way.
Can’t wait to share with you the next couple of months, as massive changes start to happen and I transition to life after sport. Stay tuned!