IN the lead up to her Olympic debut, 17-year-old Tamsin Cook considered it a privilege just to be racing at the Rio trials.
The Carine resident told media, after achieving qualification to make her first Games appearance, she did not have the words to describe what it meant to her.
“Even to be at the Olympic trials is an honour,” she said.
But a little over four months on from that day in April at the Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide, Cook – the youngest member of the Australian swim team – has proven herself an athlete capable of far more than just being happy to be there.
This week, the UWA-West Coast Swimming Club product stoically anchored the women’s 4x200m relay to an Olympic silver medal and, in the 400m freestyle, eclipsed her personal best by nearly two seconds to make the final of the event, in which she finished sixth.
Cook swam the final race of her maiden Games overnight in heat 3 of the 800m freestyle.
It was a tough ask to back up from the excitement of her relay swim just 14 hours beforehand, but the former Hillarys high school student took up the challenge in lane eight.
With an empty lane next to her, the atmosphere couldn’t have been further removed from the buzz of the relay when she had United States sensation Katie Ledecky ready to launch from the block directly to her right.
Ultimately, the longer distance swim proved more of a warm down, her time of 8.36.62 much slower than the 8.27.01 she had achieved to qualify for the event.
Australian teammate Jess Ashwood, who Cook beat in the 400m freestyle, qualified sixth fastest for the final, which will be held tomorrow morning.
Cook finished seventh from seven racers in her heat, ranking 20th from 27 swimmers overall.
But it was no slight on the potential she had shown this week.
If the South African-born swimmer’s passion for the sport holds, she’ll be 21 at the Tokyo Games in 2020 and no doubt one of her adopted country’s big hopes.
Tamsin Cook Olympic times
Heat – 4.04.36 (PB)
Final – 4.05.30 (sixth)
Heat – 1.57.35
Final – 1.56.47 (silver)
Heat – 8.36.62