JX Xtra: Word from Meg Bailey and Ben Popham

26 June 2020
Written by: Australian Dolphins Meg Bailey and Ben Popham

Australian Dolphins Meg Bailey and Ben Popham shares their experiences as athletes, how they stay motivated and balance school whilst training.  

Word from Meg Bailey, Australian Dolphin.

Meg Bailey - 2018 Commonwealth Games
Meg proudly wore the gold cap at the Commonwealth Games.

Swimming is such a great sport and I am so happy I am a part of it. I love all the friends I’ve made throughout my swimming journey and the places I’ve been able to see. I also love working hard with the help and support of my teammates in order to achieve our goals. It is important to stay motivated, keeping the end goal in mind in order to achieve our aspirations in the pool. 

Being a part of a squad who share the same mindset is really helpful, I really enjoy training and the squad definitely helps me get through some of those tough practices. 

It was challenging at times trying to balance my workload and training throughout high school, however, I was lucky enough to have a strong support network that understood my conflicting demands.

In order to succeed I prioritised my work and training needs by order of importance. It helped me manage my time effectively, avoid procrastination and get things done and out of the way as quickly as possible. This allowed me to maximise my downtime – to relax, go for a walk or spend time with family and friends. By using this time management tool throughout my education, I was able to manage the expectations that swimming, and school required of me.

Meg Bailey - 2018 Commonwealth Games

Growing up I never put much thought into how important nutrition is and how it can affect my swimming. However, I’ve learnt over the years the importance of it and the need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet in order to get the best out of my body. As athletes how we fuel our bodies plays such an important role in our overall training and competition outcomes. 

I’ve always had the mindset that if there’s something you want to achieve, just go after it.  It might be hard and uncomfortable at times, but it will be worth it when you achieve what you initially set out to do. 

 

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure you have strong support network
  • Set clear expectations
  • Value nutrition

 Word from Ben Popham, Australian Dolphin.

Hi JX athletes,

 

Hope the quarantine break gave you a chance to all realise why you swim. For me it was obvious during the break we had that I really missed swimming – I missed being in the pool, I missed training and I missed my teammates. Hopefully going back into training, I'll be more excited than ever to work hard.

 

Ben Popham - World Para Champs 2019

 

I wanted to point out to you all the importance of time management. As you get older, school becomes harder and friends want to hang out with you more often. A piece of advice that I received when I was your age was, "you're a student athlete, but student first." I think while training hard is always very important, you should not compromise your school grades to do so.

 

As many of you get closer and closer to high school, it is important that you keep focusing on doing well at school and making enough time for your friends. For me, you can't have a good swimming career and be the best athlete you want to be if you don't have a good balance between swimming, friends and school.

All Smiles: Popham Proudly displays his silver medal.
Ben with his silver medal at the World Para Champs last year.

 

The key to this is communication. Make sure you and your parents communicate to your school about your training and about any stress that you might be feeling. Make sure to let the school know when you might have a particularly tough week of training or a big meet scheduled so they are aware and can help you manage your workload. Whilst it may not be relevant right now, I can guarantee that as you progress further into high school, this becomes a vital skill in a successful swimming career. 

 

Always remember to make time for your friends. I would never stay out late on a Friday night as I knew I had training early the next morning. However, I would always give myself Saturdays after training to make sure I had enough time to enjoy time with my friends. Maintaining that balance is very important in a swimmer’s life but not always easily achievable. Work with your parents and coach all the time to make sure your training and life balance is as good as it can be.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Communication is key
  • Value your education
  • Take time for yourself
     
Want more from JX Xtra? Check out our three part webinar series, hosted by Elka Whalan, featuring interviews with athletes, nutritional advice and tasty recipes from the team at Bio Island. Click here for all the episodes. 
 
For more information on the Bio Island Australian Junior Excellence program, click here.

 

Bio Island JX - NSW

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