Story & photos by Greg Allen Pretty
Very few Gippslanders were watching the world’s greatest swimmers carve up the Olympic pool with more interest than Josh Seignior.
“The Olympics is the best in the world so it is such good competition,” said Josh. “I’m spending most of my time in front of the TV!”
That is, most of his time that isn’t already taken up with his own swimming training, school and homework, and even a weekend job at McDonald’s.
Josh from Eagle Point is almost 16 years old and has been with the East Gippsland Waterdragons for four years, after realising he was better at swimming than other sports. Under the club’s head coach Rob Moon he already has some notable national achievements to his name.
In the 15 Years age group Josh is currently ranked third in Australia in the 100m Breaststroke and fifth in the 200m. At last year’s Age Nationals he gained two silver medals for the 100m and 200m Breaststroke. He followed that up this year placing third for the 100m and fourth for the 200m.
Josh’s plan is to continue balancing the demands of studies and training as he begins VCE classes at Nagle College next year. He is up at 5.20am each day for a 6am training session then heads back to the pool each night.
“I’m trying to improve each season, then when I get to Year 12 I’ll focus a bit more on school. After that I’ll join a club wherever uni is and hopefully make an Australian team.”
Meanwhile he follows the national and international champions very closely.
“The more you can learn from them, the more you can take from them and learn to be better yourself,” he said.
Josh’s coach Rob Moon describes him as a student of the sport.
“Not a session goes by without Josh asking questions. He’ll say ‘did you realise that Cameron van der Burgh does such and such’,” said Rob.
“His application to the task and his knowledge of the sport, and his understanding of where he’s going and what he’s trying to do is setting him up for a base to go as high as he chooses.”
How high? Will it be Olympic games? “That’s up to Josh,” said Rob.
“There’s a pathway to follow in Australian swimming… he’s certainly on that. He’s on Gold Squad, he’s in Victorian squads, he’s going to nationals… the next step is make the Junior Pan Pacs (Pan Pacific Championships) and international events like that. He certainly has the ability.”
According to Rob, Josh’s application to swimming is “pretty exceptional.”
“I’ve been lucky enough to have had some pretty talented athletes over many years and a handful of those have gone onto Australian teams… and Josh has certainly shown all the traits that those guys have done in the past.”
“As far as talent and attitude towards the task… exceptional.”
Josh is a member of the Gippsland Sports Academy swimming squad and is supported by the East Gippsland Sports Foundation.
THE EAST GIPPSLAND WATERDRAGONS
Training sessions are mainly at BARC in Bairnsdale and the Lakes Entrance Aquadome, as well as Orbost in the summer.
“We have around 70 members,” said Rob. “All sorts of levels, from the little guys just coming out of learning to swim at 6, 7 or 8 years of age, through to the Joshes in the mid-teens and to others who who are working.”
“We’ve got swimmers who are ten years old, who want to go their local swim meet and that’s their Grand Final for the year. Then there is Josh and others who are going to States and aspiring to Nationals. We accommodate those guys as well.”
11 Year old Cohen Frith has earned a place at the School Sport Australia Combined Swimming Championships in Darwin during the September term break. Both Cohen and Josh went to Pacific School Games last year in Adelaide, where Cohen placed top ten in all his events and Josh placed first in the 100m Breaststroke.
“One of the biggest myths in swimming is that every single swimmer is getting up at 4:00 in the morning and has their head in the bucket at 5:00 for 2½ hours,” said Rob.
“I think a lot of the general public thinks that happens to every single swimmer at every single level and it’s not the case.
“We have swimmers who will do one or two sessions a week and decide they’d like to go to a school meet… right through to the other guys whose aspirations are higher. We tailor the training to what they want to do.”
A new development squad has seen an influx of new swimmers and Rob believes the club is nurturing a lot of talent right now.
“We’re dealing with the best people in society who are dedicated.
“One of the most pleasing things for me is that what we see in swimming as a sport when they’re a teenager is exceptional, but what we get to see when they’re 25 and are all grown up, have gone to uni and got jobs… that’s when we see the real people we’ve developed through our sport. It’s pretty special.”
East Gippsland Waterdragons runs monthly fun nights that are open to anyone who is curious about the club. They provide an opportunity for potential members and their parents to learn about the club and the opportunities it provides.
The nights are publicised on the East Gippsland Waterdragons web site and at the Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance indoor pools.