Flynn Southam swims like a dolphin but it’s the killer instincts of the king of the jungle that might be his greatest weapon.
The Bond University freestyler will represent Australia in his first international meet when the Dolphins hit the pool in Birmingham on Friday July 30. He has now added the 50m event to his Commonwealth Games program which includes the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay.
And he plans to absorb and learn from every experience that might help propel him to a battle with swimming’s apex predators at the Paris Olympics in 2024.
American Caleb Dressel and Australian Kyle Chalmers are the kings of the sport’s blue riband event, the 100m freestyle.
But with the stunning success of Romanian David Popovici at the recent World Championships and Southam’s own heroics in clocking 48.60 earlier this year to take down Chalmers’ 16 years national age record, the challenge has been set for a changing of the guard in Paris.
“I like chasing, I always like to think of the analogy of a lion,” Southam said.
“Even though they are at the top of the food chain they wouldn’t want their prey delivered on a silver platter, they still love the hunt.
“That’s why I think I will be one of the best swimmers in the world at the next few years and definitely at Paris.”
Popovici, who does not turn 18 until September, produced the two fastest swims of his life to win the 100m and 200m freestyle double in Budapest in finals that did not include Chalmers and Dressel, the Gold medalists at the past two Olympics.
And glued to his TV screen back home in Australia was Southam.
“It was awesome seeing what he is doing,’’ he said.
“And it gives me faith knowing it is possible to do those times at a young age and to be winning when he is now.
“I like David, we talk quite a bit, and I am excited to see what the future is like between us and the battles and the rivalry.’’
Southam, who has just turned 17 and is in year 12 at Lindisfarne College, has his plate full in 2022 as he prepares for the ATARs.
Along with Swimming Australia head coach Rohan Taylor and Bond Bull Shark mentors Chris Mooney and Kyle Samuelson, the decision was made for Southam to skip the World Championships and instead focus on the Commonwealth Games and then the junior Pan Pacs in Hawaii in August, which will be led by Mooney.
“I know the path we have taken will be the right one for me,” he said.
While the Olympics remain the long-term goal, he has clear ambitions for Birmingham which include securing a place in the team for the relay finals.
“I am really grateful to be there and whatever happens, happens and I am just going to enjoy it,’’ he said.
“I am just trying to get as much knowledge as I can and be able to apply it to my own growth and come Paris, that is what we are targeting at the moment, it is to get as much experience in the team environment and see if that can help me.
“But I am going to bring my A-game, don’t get that confused, I am going there to fight for Australia.”
For information on how to watch Southam and other Bondies in Birmingham click here: https://bond.edu.au/news/71986/commonwealth-games-schedule-bondies-birmingham.