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Jack's Olympic pursuit

Olympic swimming hopeful Jack Hendy is tapping into an athlete development program at TAFE Queensland to pursue his goals in and out of the pool.

Twenty-year-old Jack admits that he came into his sport slow off the blocks.

"My story is a bit different compared with other swimmers. I only started swimming competitively at 14 after people told me I had potential in the sport following a school carnival. Most elite swimmers start training very young, so in order to be competitive I really had to rise quickly from the bottom to the top and I contribute that to an underdog mentality," Jack said.

Today, Jack is part of TAFE Queensland's Academy of Sport in Cairns and he competes at elite swimming events across Australia.

"After joining the Academy I saw my biggest improvements which got me to the highest rankings I've ever experienced. I recently competed at the Olympic trials and I narrowly missed out on the team. But I'm very thankful that the Academy of Sport has helped me get to where I am in my swimming. Being at the Olympic trials really inspired me to do better, so my goal now is to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games," he said.

In Cairns the Academy of Sport Swimming Program is a post-secondary school athlete development pathway that promotes excellence by equipping young regional swimmers with the right tools to pursue sporting and education success. TAFE Queensland facilitates the program in partnership with FNQ Swimming.

Academy of Sport athletes train in a professional environment and gain access to mentors and coaches. In addition to the sporting components of the Academy, participants also gain access to study a wide range of qualifications at TAFE Queensland.

Jack, who works at a sports and aquatic centre, said he was enjoying his Certificate III in Sport and Recreation (SIS30115) studies at the Cairns campus.

"I found this study area to be the most interesting because it relates straight back to my sport. It's also given me the skills to interact with customers and develop gym programs at work. It's great that my course links me straight to my workplace and it helps me complete tasks that obviously I wouldn't have been knowledgeable on beforehand."

Being a well-rounded athlete is important to Jack, so joining TAFE Queensland's Academy of Sport was a no-brainer.

"The Academy of Sport gives opportunities to athletes that are considered at the highest level. So basically they introduce us to psychologists, physiotherapists, nutritionists, stuff that we usually wouldn't come into contact with at this level yet. It really gives us something to aspire to and it gives us a detailed look at the high-performance level," Jack said.

"Mixing with like-minded athletes is the best part about the Academy of Sport. It's usually people you wouldn't interact with in your own sport. It's also connecting you with other sports, other trainers and other coaches, it really bonds the community together."