Sean Kearney has learned how to get the best out of himself in the swimming pool.
Sean Kearney has learned how to get the best out of himself in the swimming pool. David Nielsen

Small details reveal the big picture

IF YOU focus on the small details eventually the big picture will come into view.

It is the lesson learnt by Ipswich teenage swim star Sean Kearney.

Kearney returned from the Australia Pacific School games at Adelaide last month with three medals. He claimed a gold as part of the 4x 50m freestyle relay, silver in the 4x 100m relay and bronze in the 50m backstroke.

But more important to Kearney than medals was his own self-improvement.

It is not dreams of Olympic glory that push the Ripley resident through the pool every day.

With the help of his grounded family Kearney knows working towards short term goals is much more productive.

"I was just trying for PBs," he said.

"And I smashed them"

It was the same at the Queensland Championships at Chandler last week.

Kearney beat all his own personal bests on the way to the finals in the 200m individual medley, 100m freestyle, 200m backstroke and 100m backstroke, in which he finished third.

He has qualified for the national age titles in Adelaide in March next year in the 100m backstroke and is just 0.18 of a second off qualifying for the 100m freestyle.

"I wouldn't like to make an age final," Kearney said.

"But I've got to go up an age group. So I've had to aim for trials above my age group."

Kearney's birthday is at the end of January, so with nationals soon after he will be one of the youngest in his age group.

It puts him at a disadvantage in the short term, but Kearney is wise enough to know it will serve him well in the long term.

It is also part of the reason his goals are more about personal improvement than medals.

"If you keep on improving you'll finally get to the end goal," he said.

It is a similar situation for the open water nationals, at Mooloolaba in February, which Kearney has qualified for.

He used to be a long distance swimmer, but having changed clubs this year, from Yeronga to Brisbane Grammar, is now focussing more on sprinting in the pool.

At his new base the focus is much more on technique than mileage, and Kearney can see the benefits, particularly over the shorter distances.

So he remains undecided about whether to contest the 5km open water nationals' event.

"I'm still doing PBs," he said of the longer distances.

"But at the moment the sprints are my strength."


HAVING trained 5-6 times a week for most of the year, Sean Kearney is look forward to a couple of weeks off over Christmas.

"It gives you the chance to not worry about training in the afternoon or getting up early in the morning," he said.

Kearney is also looking forward to not being as strict about what he eats.

And if there is one food in particular he is looking forward to it is pies.

His favourite is a plain steak pie, but one is unlikely to be enough for a growing 13-year-old with a professional athlete's metabolism, who has been known to eat a kilogram of lasagne at one sitting.

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