Joshua Collett was just 11 when he featured in his first newspaper article declaring he wanted to become a world champion. At 12, he told a journalist his dream was the Olympics.
Through 5am starts, training in the rain and on winter days when the pool heating was broken, Collett followed the black line and his goals.
Now 18 and studying Biomedical Science at Bond University, Collett is one stroke closer to that Olympic podium. Not only was he awarded the 2022 Hancock Prospecting Swimming Excellence scholarship, he’s also on his way to the Junior Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Hawaii.
Last year’s lengthy Sydney lockdowns meant Collett was faced with the difficult choice to relocate to the Gold Coast to ensure he could keep swimming at Bond and familiarise himself with the squad and coaches.
The decision has paid off, giving Collett the chance to combine swimming and science.
“It looked like a really good opportunity to pursue my sporting and academic careers. Here at Bond the swimming program is second to none right around the world,” he said.
“I am looking at a few health professional jobs after swimming.
“I wasn’t exactly sure which one, and Biomedical Science is a broad undergraduate pathway which can lead to many different health professions. I am looking into medicine and physiotherapy a bit more now.”
As part of National Science Week, he is reflecting on what attracted him to the degree.
“I like the idea of helping others and being hands on in the workforce. The science subjects kind of chose me at school, I was naturally better at math and science,” he said.
While his classmates are enjoying their semester break, Collett will go from exam blocks to the starting blocks, competing in the 50m freestyle, 100m breaststroke and the 200 individual medley in Hawaii.
The medley event has become Collett’s main pursuit after a surprising win at the 2021 Australian Age Swimming Championships where he took the gold medal in the 200m individual medley. The Junior Pan Pacs will be his first foray on the world stage.
“I’m looking forward to the experience of racing against international competition,” he said.
“Usually, we race nationally or at state level and you see a lot of familiar faces over and over. It’s going to be interesting to see how I compare to countries like America.
“I like to set my bar high. I won’t disclose all my goals, but I would like to do a couple of personal best times.”
His ultimate goal is to swim under automatic qualifying times for the senior team which will compete at the World Short Course Swimming Championships in Melbourne in December.
Collett said everything the Bond squad was doing aimed to prepare them for the 2024 Olympic Games.
“Chris Mooney [head coach] always has the long-term vision goggles on. He still talks about Paris and most of the stuff we do in training is not for Hawaii, it’s for Paris. He says things like he’s going to start learning French now,” he said.
Collett has also been inspired by two of Bond’s Commonwealth Games swimmers.
Flynn Southam won three gold medals (4x100m relay, 4x200m relay, heat swimmer 4x100m mixed freestyle relay) and Ben Armbruster finished seventh in the men’s 50m backstroke. The trio are tight knit and push each other to ever greater heights, said Collett.
“They are the best training partners, and we are pushing each other,” he said.
“We have pushed them to make their first open team and it looks like we will keep pushing more of our swimmers to get there as well.”