Bond University’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year, Maddie Groves, will fulfil a childhood dream when she competes for her country at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio next month.
Maddie will represent Australia in the 100m and 200m women’s butterfly individual events, the 4 x 200m freestyle relay and 4 x 100m medley relay event.
Maddie said swimming for Australia and competing at the Olympics was a dream come true for her.
“I remember being told when I was younger that if you work hard and you dream it; then you can do it,” Maddie said.
“But it wasn’t until the last few years training alongside swimmers who had competed at London and Beijing , and doing the same work they were doing, that I believed being an Olympic swimmer was actually a realistic dream for me.
“There are so many people in swimming I look up to including many of my Australian Dolphins teammates, not just for their hard work and performance, but for how they act and treat people both in and out of the pool.
“My swimming heroes are butterfly champions like Susie O’Neill, Petria Thomas and Jessicah Schipper, who are not just incredible athletes, but I really admire what they’ve achieved with their careers.”
“It’s been such an enjoyable preparation leading up to the Games and I’m very excited for the whole experience, but mostly looking forward to racing.
“We’ve put so much work into training, I can’t wait to see not just what I can do, but what all my teammates do as well.
“I’ve been told the biggest challenge of going to the Olympics is trying not to get carried away with how exciting it is to be there. There’s so much build-up in the media and so many expectations, that you can become overwhelmed by the whole experience.
“My plan is to keep my head down, keep listening to my coach and teammates, keep calm and focus on the real reason I’m there - which is to race.”
In the lead-up to Rio, Maddie has been training hard with veteran Olympic Swim Coach, Michael Bohl of St Peters Western Swim Club in Brisbane. Her weekly training schedule has included 10 swimming sessions, two to three gym sessions and two pilates classes, in addition to some altitude bike training the squad had taken on to up the ante for the Games.
Michael has known Maddie for 10 years and has been coaching her for the last five.
“I first saw Maddie’s Olympic potential at about 14 years of age when she was swimming, and winning, at the Australian Age Group Championships. To see her in the heat of the battle and come out victorious meant I knew she could perform well under pressure,” Michael said.
“The best athletes have got that great blend of speed and endurance and I think Maddie is one of those swimmers.
“In the pool Maddie is a great competitor, she’s got great technique - which is a big advantage - and she just knows how to pace her race really well.
“However, her greatest attribute is probably her courage. She doesn’t flinch when it comes to racing and she’s a great competitor.
Maddie started her Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at Bond in 2015, but as a Bond Elite Sports Program (BESP) athlete, she’s been able to take time off from study this year to concentrate on realising her Olympic dream.
“For me, going to university is another outlet. It’s great to have something else to focus on outside of swimming and there’s so much to immerse yourself in and so much to do at Bond, I just really enjoy it,” Maddie said.
“When I found out I was the recipient of the 2015 Georgina Hope Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship at Bond, I was so excited because I knew that Bond was going to be really supportive of my journey to the Olympics – which they have been since Day One.
“Balancing study and swimming can be very stressful at times, but at Bond I have an awesome support network. There’s always someone I can call on who can help me with what I’m doing and help me to organise my schedule better.
“This really frees me up from stress and allows me to focus on the things that are important, which is performing in the pool and the classroom.
“Hopefully I’ll be back at Bond in September as I really want to go to the Uni Games in Perth later this year. I went to my first Uni Games with Bond last year and had a great time and so much fun.
“I’m looking forward to going back to study next semester and challenging myself in a different area. It can be frustrating having to take time off study, but going to the Olympics is a pretty good excuse!
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I really want to give it everything I’ve got.”
Bon Voyage and Good Luck Maddie!