BRENDAN Best (13) went to last month’s National Age Open Swimming Championships in Brisbane chasing personal best times.
Taking part in his first national competition, the Floreat resident entered the 14-and-under 200m freestyle event ranked 22nd and came out of the water as an Australian champion.
“I definitely didn’t expect to win,” he said.
“I’ve been training 50s and 100s all season and that was the 200, so to win gold was surprising.
“I also swam a six-second PB, which I didn’t expect to do either.”
The UWA West Coast swimming club member put in the hard yards in the lead up, training as many hours a week as a full-time job.
“I train nine times a week, which can be up to 40 hours,” he said.
“We do gym, circuits, and other land work; it’s not all pool-based.
“I am up and in the pool at HBF Stadium by 5am most mornings, and then I go straight to school from training, then back to the pool most afternoons.
“I probably spend more time in the pool than in my bed, but I love the feeling of getting fitter and stronger and already being awake hours before going to school.”
Brendan began training only four years ago and has since worked his way up the ranks.
Dad Stuart Best said he admired his son’s dedication.
“He has always been a strong swimmer, but talent only gets you so far and hard work gets you the rest of the way,” he said.
“Brendan (and the other club members) would not be there without the coaches.
“You definitely feel like you own it a little as well, because you’ve been so involved in getting them to training, the nutrition and making sure they sleep; it’s a lot for a 13-year-old.”
The Trinity College student said managing the workload of training and schoolwork was a balancing act.
“I do find it hard to fit in homework because I’m so tired after training,” he said.
Modestly laughing off the suggestion of being the next Ian Thorpe, Brendan said he had a lot of respect for professional swimmers.
“It would be cool to get as far as them, but it’s a lot of work,” he said.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys. I’m only in Year 8 at the moment, so I’ll see how it goes in Year 11 and 12.”