When Para Head Coach Brendan Burkett told young UQ swimmer Jack Ireland he was going to represent Australia at the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, the 19-year-old described it as a “proud moment” in his career.
“It’s going to be a good feeling to pull on the green and gold for the first time,” he said during the team’s warm weather training camp in Cairns.”
“Everyone is getting along really well; all the debutants have been made to feel very welcome.”
As a ‘New Kid on the Blocks’, Ireland is one of nine rookies on the team who will make their maiden appearance on the international stage in September.
His selection on the Dolphins squad was reward for the stellar performances he’d put in at the Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships, which acted as the qualification meet.
At the champs he took home a bronze medal in the 200m Freestyle Multi-Class and also finished top ten in five other races – including freestyle, individual medley, backstroke and butterfly disciplines.
Ireland’s swimming journey began in Newcastle; he attended Floraville Public School and learnt to swim at Swansea Sharks Swimming Club. When he was 13 years old, he then moved to Queensland and began swimming at UQ Swim Club under Head Coach, David Heyden.
Heyden has been priming the freestyle and individual medley specialist for the upcoming champs, with Ireland noting he’s been doing “a lot of hard sessions in the pool and lots of gym sessions.”
“I do nine sessions a week in the pool and they each go for two hours,” he added.
His training regime has been paying off, with Ireland also claiming a bronze the Men’s 200m Freestyle Multi-Class at the World Para Series which was held in Melbourne earlier this year.
Looking ahead to next month’s champs, the 2016 Australia Day Junior Athlete of the Year said he’d love to make a final in his first outing.
“I just want to do my best, hopefully record a personal best and make a final,” he said.
Good luck, Jack!