Lightfoot inspiring next generation

21 May 2019

Weeks on from the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships, and Colby Ackland still has the inspirational note he received from Marion swimmer, Thomas Lightfoot.

Tucked away in his draw at home, Ackland – who was volunteering as a basket handler – was the lucky recipient of a handwritten message and a pair of googles which Lightfoot left in his swimming tub on pool deck.

The note read:

“Hey unlucky swimmer carrying my smelly clothes. In 2012, I was a basket carrier too. I set a goal to swim an open final. Tonight, I’m in my first open final at 16 years old. Anyone can achieve anything when they set their mind to it. Take these goggles, good luck with your future!” T. Lightfoot.

Colby Ackland - Basket Handler

Not believing the note was left for him, the 14-year-old was very grateful to receive the inspirational message.

“I didn’t really know it was for me at first, as it was just lying under the googles,” Ackland said.

“I think Tom left the note to motivate a young swimmer because he believed he could make it that far and then he trained hard to achieve that goal, he was also a basket handler when he was little – I’d like to get to an open final like he did.”

After Lightfoot’s race, he headed for the changerooms and on the way, by passed the young basket handlers.

“When he finished racing, he came by where we were sitting and said ‘hello’,” Colby said. 

Tom Lightfoot
(L-R) Tom Lightfoot (Marion Swim Club), Colby Ackland and Lucas Ackland.

“I got the note and showed him and said thank you – it was really nice of him.”

A student at Clare High School in South Australia, Ackland has been swimming competitively for the last five years and aspires to improve his open water swimming.

“I like doing long distance freestyle and I want to swim open water because you don’t have to keep track of how many laps you’ve done, you can just swim as fast as you can to the other end.”

Lightfoot was also in attendance as an observer at the men's 100m and 200m freestyle national event camp (as pictured above) where he gained knowledge and insight from Australia's swimming elite earlier in the year. 

Following the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships, Lightfoot also competed at the 2019 Hancock Prospecting Australian Age Swimming Championships where he won Bronze in the Boys 16 Years 200m Breaststroke. 

Tom Lightfoot - Age Champs medal
Tom Lightfoot with his Age Championship medal


Lightfoot’s thoughtfulness touched the hearts of the swimming community.  

This week we celebrate National Volunteers Week. Swimming competitions, clubs and meets would not be possible with out volunteers, especially basket handlers like Colby!

For more information on how you can volunteer, click here.

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