Olympian Joe Swift recalls path to Rio to Palmyra Primary students


Melville Water Polo Club’s Joel Swift represented Australia at the Rio Olympics. Photo: Getty Images
Melville Water Polo Club’s Joel Swift represented Australia at the Rio Olympics. Photo: Getty Images

OLYMPIAN Joel Swift grew up playing footy, rugby and then basketball in the summer but it was playing water polo in Bicton that paved the way to a sporting career.

In the wake of the Rio Olympics, and after four years in Hungary, the centre forward has returned to live in East Fremantle.

When Melville Times spoke to Swift, he had been in the country just 10 days and was recently recovered from a bout of gastro picked up on the flight home.

Swift said competing in the Olympics, where he scored four goals, was the fulfilment of a dream.

“It was fantastic,” he said.

“It’s something I thought about since I was these guys’ age,” he said of the school students he was about to talk to at Palmyra Primary School on Tuesday.

Swift began playing water polo with the Melville Water Polo Club.

He was part of the 13-member Australian team that finished ninth in Rio, providing the opportunity to rub shoulders with the world’s great athletes including runner Usain Bolt.

“Most of the interaction with other athletes was in the food court,” he said.

“We were training twice a day when we weren’t competing and training was quite far away.

“It was pretty chaotic in the village.”

Swift said he had no issues with the standard of the accommodation when he arrived.

“I did know one of the Americans had a sink tap that turned on the shower,” he said.

He said the water quality of the outdoor pools in Rio was fine, although some chlorine added to adjust the green water colour made their eyes burn by the end of the competition.

While he admitted to indulging in a little of the free McDonald’s provided to athletes by the Olympics sponsor at the close of the competition, Swift said he was about to resume training in a few weeks and had to keep in shape.

He will train at Challenge Stadium and in Melville, with a focus on the Tokyo Olympics.