Rocky swimmer meets his idols in Brisbane
SWIMMING: Rockhampton's Jack Kelly first got a feel for the water as a baby at learn-to-swim classes.
In his formative years he continued to spend countless hours in the pool but it was about three years ago that he decided to start swimming competitively with Caribeae.
"I was playing other sports and I thought I would give swimming a go as well,” the 12-year-old explains.
"At first I wasn't too good at it but I started training and became better at it.”
A dogged determination, a hunger for knowledge and a penchant for hard work now has Kelly on course for success.
Coach Jodie Shanks said the talented youngster really came into his own in 2017 and "made some big improvements in a short space of time”.
Kelly's successful 12 months culminated in an impressive showing at his first state championships in Brisbane in December.
He recorded seven top-10 finishes in his 10 individual events, which included fourth placings in both the 800m freestyle and the 400m individual medley finals.
Collectively, he shaved two minutes from his PBs across all his events.
"I was really excited to finish in the top 10 in Queensland seven times,” Kelly said.
"I didn't win any medals but it was great to finish fourth twice and get that close to one.
"I'll be using that as motivation to go one better next time.”
Shanks said Kelly's time improvement at the states was incredible.
"From a coach's perspective, what he did was like winning medals, and it's only a matter of time before he does because of the way he's been training and performing.
"Jack deserves all the success he's getting now.
"He works hard in the training pool, he listens to any feedback that's he given and he's always looking to improve.
"He sets his goals and just goes about achieving them.”
Kelly is a highly motivated individual and his desire to continue reaching new heights was given a boost when he got to rub shoulders with some of Australia's swimmers when he was in Brisbane.
"It was really cool to meet swimmers like Mitch Larkin, Bronte Campbell and Emily Seebohm,” he said.
"I like watching Mitch Larkin because he's such a good swimmer and his stroke looks so good through the water.
"I also look up to the older kids in my squad like Joe Milburn and Dan Lynch.
"I really enjoy the rewards that come from swimming and the friends that you make. It's also nice to see my mates achieving and being successful.”
Kelly now has his sights set on qualifying for the age nationals in Sydney in April.
"I'm pretty close to the times in the 200m and 400m individual medley and the 800m freestyle so that's the next thing I'm working towards,” he said.
"When I'm doing my morning training I'm up about quarter to five. Sometimes Mum and Dad have to wake me up but when it's a bit hard to get going I just keep thinking of the next goal I want to achieve.”