A COMMONWEALTH Games swimmer who missed out on countless junior squads before working his way into the Australian team has encouraged south-west competitors to work hard to reach their goals.
Olympic Games hopeful Travis Mahoney spoke at a Swimming Victoria regional development day in Warrnambool on Sunday.
The 400-metre individual medley specialist said he was humbled to don the green and gold after a slow start to his junior career.
“It is important (to know) that you can make teams at a later time in life and you don’t have to make all the junior teams,” Mahoney said.
“Everything I didn’t get I thought ‘well I need to train harder to get that’.
“I used a lot of my disappointments as motivation to work harder.”
Mahoney, 25, made his first Australian team in 2012, picked for the world shortcourse swimming championships.
The Victorian swimmer’s biggest achievement to date was a sixth place finish in his pet event, the 400m individual medley, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year.
“In 2012 when I made my first team, that was a big thing in terms of self belief, knowing you can make it,” Mahoney said.
“At the end of 2011 I got glandular fever.
“Training was going really well and I got sick and had to spend two or three months out of the water.
“That was really tough for me because I was looking good for 2012 Olympic trials but a road block got in the way.
“But I used that as motivation again to train really hard and at the end of the year I made my first team.”
Mahoney said the thrill of being in the Australian inner sanctum never waned.
“Once you make that first team you’ll do anything to experience that again,” he said.
“It is an awesome bubble to be in; the Australian swim team bubble.
“Once you’re in it, you want to stay in it.”
Mahoney is busy preparing for the 2016 Olympic team trials in April.
He is hopeful of representing Australia in Rio de Janerio in the 400m individual medley.
A berth in the 200m individual medley would be a bonus for the former Victorian Institute of Sport athlete.
“The pride you feel when you get your uniform or you walk out and you’re representing your country, it’s indescribable,” he said.
Mahoney was one of four Australian swimmers to speak to 120 south-west swimmers in Warrnambool.
Two-time Olympian Kenrick Monk, former world 100-metre breaststroke champion Linley Frame and emerging backstroke competitor Hayley Baker joined Mahoney in the south-west for the day-long development session.
Swimming Victoria provided swimmers with information ranging from nutrition and injury prevention to technique.
It catered for members from clubs as far as Colac and Hamilton.