Paralympics dream for Will after nine-medal school bounty
SWIMMING: What started as a form of physical therapy quickly became a passion for Will Salmond.
The Rocky boy was born with mild cerebral palsy and swimming was part of an extensive physiotherapy program designed to get his limbs moving.
It was obvious that Will had an affinity with the water and that swimming would become much more than an integral part of his exercise regime.
"He loved the water from the word go,” mum Sandra explains. "We had a pool at home as well so I think that was also part of it.”
Will, now 12, is a member of the Caribeae Swimming Club and is fast becoming a force in the multiclass swimming ranks.
As captain of the Queensland multiclass team at the recent Pacific School Games in Adelaide, he led by example.
He won a medal in every event he contested to finish with an impressive haul of three gold, four silver and two bronze, and went on to be named Queensland's 10-12 years multiclass swimmer of the meet.
Will also clocked PBs in every one of his events, shaving nine seconds off his previous best time to win the 100m breaststroke and going 10 seconds better to win bronze in the 100m backstroke.
"I think I did pretty well because I only won one medal last year,” the young champ said.
Will said his first medal - gold in the medley relay - was undoubtedly the best.
"It was my first swim of the meet and we broke the Pan Pacific Games record,” he said.
"Winning that was huge. I was like 'wow, a gold medal, that's so exciting'.
"I had trained exceptionally hard for the age nationals earlier this year and I think that really helped me go up a level.
"I also knew what it (the Games) was going to be like after competing last year. I think I was more prepared and I knew some of the other swimmers there and just felt more comfortable.”
Will trains four to five times a week and while he has a clear goal in swimming, he is not getting ahead of himself and just wants to keep improving.
"I love training as much as I do competing,” he said.
"I'm trying to get to the Paralympic Games but besides that I'm just hoping to get better.”
Coach Jodie Shanks said everything was starting to come together for her young charge.
"Being a little bit older he has a better understanding of what he needs to do and that is starting to come through in his swimming,” she said.
"Will's an extremely intelligent young man. You can give him just the smallest bit of information and he can work with it and get something from it.
"His performance at the Games is definitely his best to date. He did very well at the school selection trials for the Queensland team but this was just above and beyond.
"I knew he would be strong in all of his 50m events and the 100m backstroke but I didn't expect him to medal in every swim.”
Mum Sandra puts Will's improvement in the pool in the past 12 months down to hard work and maturity, and she credits David Milburn for giving rise to her son's successful swimming career.
It was the highly respected Rockhampton swim coach who encouraged the Salmonds to attain a disability swimming classificiation for Will.
"While it was a lengthy process, I think getting that classification was really important and being able to compete was a real spur for Will,” Sandra said.
"With anything he wants to do, Will is extremely determined. That's been a trait of his from a very young age. I think he doesn't let things faze him too much either.
"He doesn't get nervous and he doesn't have to psyche himself up; he's pretty unflappable when it comes to his swimming.”