This year marks Sam Short’s Australian senior swimming team debut and he had his first international competition overseas at the World Championships in Budapest, where he came away with the Silver medal alongside Elijah Winnington, Zac Incerti and Mack Horton in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay. Representing Team Australia at his debut Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Sam won Silver in the Men’s 400m Freestyle, and he became the Commonwealth champion, having won Gold in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle. At the 2022 Swimming Australia Awards, Sam was announced as joint winner of the AIS Discovery of the Year and he is now targeting the World Championships trials in June 2023 in the hope of making the World Championships later that year in Japan. Recently, Sam answered our questions about becoming the Men’s 1500m Freestyle Commonwealth champion at his debut Games in Birmingham, winning Silver in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay with Team Australia at the World Championships this year and being announced as the joint winner of the AIS Discovery of the Year at the 2022 Swimming Australia Awards.
How did you find the experience competing at your Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham earlier this year?
The Commonwealth Games were everything I thought they would be. Village life and socialising with other athletes from around the world was awesome. It was an awesome environment to be a part of, which was reflected in my results.
What was it like becoming Commonwealth champion in the Men’s 1500m Freestyle after winning Gold?
Winning Gold in the 1500 has been a goal for a long time now. Australia has such a proud history in the 1500 and I’m proud to have my name on that list of 1500 Commonwealth champions. I had trained so hard for that moment and to see that it paid off makes me want to set bigger and better goals.
You also won Silver in the Men’s 400m Freestyle, how did it feel winning your first Commonwealth medal?
A Silver in the Men’s 400 Free was a great way to start the week. The depth for this event is insane in Australia. I love swimming the event and slowly closing in on the best in the world. Winning this medal I think set me up for a successful 1500m at the end of the week.
How was it staying in the athletes village and competing for Team Australia?
The athletes village was amazing. The food, people, staff and facilities were great. To top it off, being with Team Australia gave me a sense of pride and excitement. It’s every athlete’s dream to represent their country on the international stage.
What did you enjoy most from making your Commonwealth Games debut?
I enjoyed meeting great people and athletes from other countries. Most of all, I enjoyed racing some of the best in the world and performing in front of a big crowd. I loved making my family and friends proud back home in Australia.
Earlier this year, you competed at the World Championships in Budapest, what was it like winning the Silver medal in the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay alongside Elijah Winnington, Zac Incerti and Mack Horton?
The World Championships was a roller coaster of a meet for me. To win Silver in the 4×200 Relay with those boys was my first ever international medal. The hype, excitement, pressure and nerves in those moments is why I do this sport.
What was it like being selected to represent Australia at the World Championships and how did you prepare for competing in Budapest?
It was my first ever Australian team and my first time competing overseas. It was a tight turnaround from trials, which negatively affected my distance raced, but these are the learning experiences I have to learn before Paris 2024. We had a staging camp in Slovakia, which was a first time experience for me. That experience is a big reason on why I performed well in Birmingham.
How have you found your debut season as a member of the Australian senior team?
My debut season was awesome. I achieved many goals and it has allowed me to set bigger and better ones for the future. The drive to make future teams is bigger then ever for me. As an athlete, I have been dreaming of representing my country my whole life.
Can you tell us about some of your other stand-out highlights from your swimming career so far?
Obviously, Comm Games and World Championships are my major highlights. I had an excellent age national campaign throughout the years, which saw my progression in my events. Short course season in 2020 where I broke some Australian records was probably another highlight. I’m only 18, so hopefully this highlight list grows!
Had you always wanted to be an elite swimmer and how did you get into the sport?
I’ve been in the water my whole life. My family is heavily involved in surf lifesaving at Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club. It was a rule in my family that if I wanted to do surf, I had to swim. I’ve been a highly competitive kid my whole life, which is the reason I fell in love with swimming. From a young age, I’ve always wanted to be the best and compete with the ‘big dogs’ of the sport.
What is a typical training day for you and how does it change in the lead-up to a competition?
A typical day in training for me is: 5:00am wake up, training from 5:30am to 8am. Home for breakfast. Then I do uni/recover. I have arvo training from 3:00pm to 5:30pm. After, I do a gym session for about an hour. In heavy training periods, I swim an average of around 12-15km per day. Leading into comp, this distance reduces a little along with the intensity of each session. This freshens me up and gets me fired up to race.
This year, you were named joint winner of the AIS Discovery of the Year at the 2022 Swimming Australia Awards, can you tell us what this was like?
I had no idea I was going to win this award. I was overseas travelling while I got this award. It was an honour to be named as the Discovery of the Year, and I’m eager to build on this award next season.
How do you like to spend your time away from swimming?
I love travel, I love the beach and I also love hanging with my mates. I study a duel degree in science and law at QUT, so that unfortunately takes up a lot of time as well. I’m a big Netflix and movie fan as well!
Have you been given any advice as a swimmer that has stuck with you and what advice would you give a young athlete starting their swimming career?
I was told when I was younger by my former coach Richard Sleight to be a student of the sport. To watch the best in the world and strive to be like them. I also love the quote, “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.
Do you have any competitions coming up that you can tell us about or that you are targeting?
I’m targeting the World Championships trials in June 2023, and then hopefully the World Championships in Japan.
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