It was two o'clock on a Saturday afternoon in June when Auburn swimmer Tim Hodge received a phone call from his coach telling him to pack his bags as quickly as possible.
A lockdown in New South Wales was imminent and Hodge – who was on his way home from a prosthetics appointment – had to make a dash with his coach and teammate to the regional town of Nelson Bay.
Jumping in the car the trio – comprising of Hodge, his coach Clinton Camilleri and Dolphin teammate Ricky Betar – drove more than two hours to their destination where they stayed for nearly three weeks before making their way to Queensland.
Fast forward a whirlwind nine weeks on the move and Hodge has managed to successfully compete at the Para GP in Brisbane, followed by a two-week training camp in Cairns with the Australian Paralympic Swim Team.
Now, on the eve of his second Paralympic Games, he said this untraditional lead up had instilled him with another level of resilience and a ‘make the most of every day’ mentality.
“In terms of preparation, in previous years we've been confident that we’d have pool space and access to gyms, whereas with Covid, we weren’t confident that there wasn't going to be a lockdown tomorrow or the day after, so we had to make the most of everything we had,” Hodge explained.
“I feel like we’ve had probably one of the best preps we could possibly have coming off the back of Covid and 2019 worlds. Competing at Trials and some of the times posted gave us confidence leading into this trip that we’re on track and everything is going well, and we’ll give it our best in Tokyo.”
After arriving in Japan’s capital and settling into the village, Hodge said he was blown away when he walked into the Tokyo Aquatic Centre for the first time.
“I was a little bit in shock. The pool and the entire Aquatic Centre looked amazing. It felt really good to dive into the competition pool for the first time and it made me feel really confident,” Hodge said.
“Being at the Games is just so exciting, it's like no other championships, nothing can ever compare to it. The experience of being in the village and being part of the larger Australian team, not just the swim team, really brings everyone together and we just want to do our best performances in the pool.”
The S9 swimmer, who is competing in the Men’s 100m Backstroke, Men’s 100m Butterfly and Men’s 200m Individual Medley, begins his campaign tomorrow on day six, so he has been wait patiently for his time to don the green and gold.
With this in mind, he has worked with his coach to devise a strategy to keep him in the moment and ready to race for when his events roll around.
After an impressive swim at the Australian Swimming Trials in the Men’s 200m individual Medley – where he clocked 2:15.25 – Hodge will head into the race ranked number one for times swum this year. While this has given the young swimmer confidence, he’s concentrating on what he can control and following his process.
“Rather than focus on the rankings I’m more focussed on my individual race to make sure I get the best time I can in the pool,” he said.
“In the end I can't control my competitors, I can only control my performance. That's the kind of mindset that we've been drilling over the last probably 18 to 24 months now, and that's what will be going through my head behind the blocks when I get up to race.”
Our Aussie swimmers kicked off their campaign at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre on Wednesday and continues through till Friday 3 September.