Training under Gennadiy Labara at Wagga Wagga Swim Club, Ashley Van Rijswijk is making her Dolphin’s debut at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
Now, with less than a week until the Games kick off in Japan, the young swimmer is only days away from achieving her lifelong ambition.
Pulling on the green and gold for the first time, Van Rijswijk says that getting her gold cap and pin presented to her was a reward for all the hard work she and her team has put in.
“Getting the gold cap was super exciting and made it feel even more real than it already is, I’m super proud,” she said.
After an incredibly successful performance at Trials in Adelaide earlier this year, Van Rijswijk has qualified to race breaststroke and individual medley events in Tokyo.
“My main events are the 100m breast (S14) and the 200m IM (SM14),” she said.
“My goal would be to hopefully be standing on the podium for the breaststroke and for the 200m IM to make the finals.”
Not only does Van Rijswijk have her race plan set out, but her preparation – including skipping before every swim – allows her to get in the zone and get her head in the game.
“I do what is called units, lots of push ups and squats,” she said.
“It helps to build muscle and warm me up so I can swim well.”
Van Rijswijk’s swimming club and coach Gennadiy Labara have been there since day one, while on team Van Rijswijk has been under the watchful eye of Jon Bell in Cairns, and is continuing to motivate and ignite the drive for success in the young swimmer.
“She’s been training really well, she’s been sitting well in the water,” Bell said.
“We’re really happy with her progress so far, especially in the 100 breast.
“We use the term flicking the switch and we will take all the hard work into Tokyo – we’re ready to race.”
Speaking fondly of Van Rijswijk, Bell has been impressed with her commitment and professionalism at the pre-departure training camp in Cairns.
“She is very talented and she’s been training the house down,” he said.
“When you come together as a team, the movement as a collective is unbelievable.”
Good luck in Tokyo, Ashley!