Who knows what my life may have turned out to be, had my parents not purchased their first home with a lane pool in the backyard.

Although I have a feeling Dad may have had his regrets – having to wake up everyday at a quarter-to-four every morning to take me to early morning swim squad would have been an absolute killer.

There’s no way my son or daughter will be taking up swimming for that reason alone haha (jokes!).

Honestly though, both my parents were huge for me from that aspects, and there’s no way I make it this far without them.

And not only them – my junior coaches back at my home club in Springwood, in the Blue Mountains, put in overtime to help a skinny kid make the most of the talent he had.

By 13 I had broken away from my age group, and my parents and I decided that if I was going to be a chance at going any further, I needed to break out into a different zone, so I made the decision at 14 to leave home program and move to Olympic Park. 

It was hard at first, being an hour’s drive away from family, but I knew it was a move I had to make for the hope of turning pro one day.

While a struggle to be away from former squad, my swimming has been able to go to a whole new level.

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2018 was without a doubt my best year in the pool in the way of accolades, medals competition performances. But my greatest feat came only a few weeks ago, when I set a new Commonwealth record at the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide.

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So much goes on behind-the-scenes to make those moments possible, and it’s impossible to really illustrate just what it takes to compete on such a stage, because unfairly as it may seem at times, it really is difficult for anyone to actually see the hours you’re doing.

From the endless sessions in the pool swimming laps, to active recovery and cross-training and pilates also – records are the accumulation of all your input combined.

To see it all pay off is such a relief, and a reminder that you’re not doing it all for nothing! That, this is all for something.

That was really put to me last year, when I competed against Great Britain’s Adam Peaty at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games – he’s a massive idol of mine, and in my opinion, easily the best breaststroke in history. 

Just the opportunity to compete against guys like Adam, who are clearly the best in the world, lets me know I do belong in the same pool as them.

Because when you first earn your selection into these tournaments, as ambitious as it would to be a medal-placer, all you’re really seeking to do is win the respect of your opponents first and foremost.

I’ve always believed once you can do that, the rest should follow.

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Although I was only 17 at the time, when I missed out on the Rio Olympics by a single point, I was so upset, because I knew I just wasn’t ready despite what I wanted to tell myself.

But as weird as it sounds, just missing out was probably the best thing that has happened to my career to date.

It made me more mentally resilient, and given me a sense of disappointment to fuel my success.

That same level of disappointment is what is driving me towards the Tokyo 2020 qualifiers, and my motivation for the next four years.

I have something to prove to all the naysayers who have told me along the way I wouldn’t make it. I’m out to show them all.