Why the Gold Coast Games will be ex­tra spe­cial for swim­ming star Emma McKeon

Sunday Herald Sun - Body and Soul - - FRONT PAGE -

When swim­ming champ Emma McKeon, 23, dives into the pool this month, she’ll be up­hold­ing a fam­ily tra­di­tion

“Igot into swim­ming mainly be­cause of my par­ents. They started a swim­ming school in Wol­lon­gong, where I grew up, and they got me and my brother, David, into les­sons at a young age be­cause they wanted us to feel safe and com­fort­able around wa­ter. My par­ents, Susie and Ron, and my un­cle Rob all swam in the 1982 Com­mon­wealth Games in Bris­bane, but they never pushed us to com­pete. I went through all the learn-to-swim lev­els and loved to race at school swim­ming car­ni­vals but

I race be­cause of my love of the wa­ter.

It feels so spe­cial for both my brother and I to be fol­low­ing in our fam­ily’s foot­steps at a home Games. I know that sport changes over time, but it’s pretty cool know­ing that they raced for their coun­try in the same meet we’ll be rac­ing at – and only just up the road in Bris­bane – and they’ll be watch­ing us just like their par­ents watched them.

Our fam­ily is re­ally close, so hav­ing David swim at these Games with me means so much. The Aus­tralian team is al­ready like a big fam­ily, but to have some­one there who’s ac­tu­ally part of your fam­ily and who can of­fer you that close sup­port is re­ally spe­cial. When you’re try­ing to achieve the best re­sult, it’s nice to have some­one to talk to, some­one who knows how you’re feel­ing with­out you need­ing to say any­thing.

I’ll have a busy sched­ule, com­pet­ing in the 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m but­ter­fly and all three re­lay events, but I’ll still try to be there cheer­ing David on as much as I can in the 4 x 200m re­lay and 400m freestyle.

Ev­ery­thing I do is al­ways work­ing to­wards the next Olympics, but the fact these Com­mon­wealth Games are in Aus­tralia has me more ex­cited, es­pe­cially as it’s on my doorstep. I moved to the Gold Coast last year for train­ing, so now I live about 2km from where we’ll be swim­ming. It’s been so ex­cit­ing see­ing ev­ery­thing get set up in the lead-up to the Games.

I’ve also never raced in front of a home crowd on an in­ter­na­tional stage, so lots of friends and fam­ily will be there and no-one cheers as loudly as a home crowd. It will be an ex­pe­ri­ence I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber, no mat­ter the re­sults.”

“I’m fol­low­ing in my par­ents’ foot­steps”

(from top) Emma and David’s par­ents com­peted in the 1982 Games in Bris­bane; with her team­mates at the Rio Olympics, af­ter win­ning gold

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