He only turned 15 in December and was one of the youngest competitors at last week’s Australian Swimming Championships in Brisbane, but Springwood’s Matthew Wilson was able to make a splash against his more experienced rivals.
Wilson was on debut at the championships — which also served as a Commonwealth Games selection trial and was broadcast live — after qualifying for three events at last month’s state titles.
He handled the pressure well in his first challenge, the men’s 200m breaststroke heats.
In a field of 42 entrants, the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre (SOPAC) swimming club representative finished in 11th place, enough to earn a spot in the B final where he nailed a personal best (PB) time of 2:18:86 to improve to 10th place overall.
There was no other swimmer younger than 17 in the top 15 finishers.
“I was really happy with that swim, particularly because me and my coach [Adam Kable] had talked a lot about how to push it to get a faster time,” Wilson told the Gazette on Sunday.
“I was stoked to finish 10th at that level.
“The atmosphere poolside probably pushed me a little too, but I also had to try to zone all that out and focus, which I was able to do.”
Wilson was not able to beat his NSW Championships time in the men’s 400m individual medley heats, but still finished in a respectable 13th place.
“I was happy with the first half of that race but I slowed in the last 200m, probably because I was a bit tired from having a night race and then backing up for that race the next morning.”
He finished a disappointing 66th in his final event, the men’s 50m breaststroke.
Wilson said taking part in his first national elite youth squad camp in Canberra last October helped him to prepare for the Australian Championships.
“That camp was hard, probably one of the toughest training blocks I’ve ever done and there was definitely no room for error there.
“We did lots of gym work which I hadn’t really done before but I found the biggest change compared to club-level training was how many extra kilometres were added to each lap swimming session.
“It was great to have some of the best coaches in Australia there and to have different coaches for each swimming stroke.
“I moved to SOPAC last October when my coach at Springwood Swimming Club [Paul Dobson] retired.
“I train with their high performance squad and get to do quite a bit of swimming with Daniel Tranter [SOPAC swimmer and Olympian], which pushes me.”
Wilson was due to swim for Winmalee High School at the NSW All-School Swimming Championships on Monday night and will compete at the National Age Group Swimming Championships in a fortnight.
“I hope to do well there too, but I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch,” he said.
“I’ll just keep training hard and try to make the Australian Swim Team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“That’s definitely my aim.”