Spark’s Olympic ambition burns bright
SWIMMING: Rockhampton’s Jacob Spark is pulling out all the stops to chase his Olympic dream.
The 18-year-old has put a promising rugby league career on hold to focus his attention on swimming.
“The Olympic trials in June are a massive goal for me,” Spark said.
“There’s little steps along the way that I’ve got to get to and I’m training hard to reach each of them and it’s going well.
“The Olympics is the pinnacle and if you make it you get to call yourself an Olympian. That’s pretty special and it would mean a lot to get there, that’s why I’m ready to give it a real crack.”
Spark was offered a contract by the Rockhampton Leagues Club CQ Capras after playing with the club’s under-20s this year and making his Intrust Super Cup debut.
But he decided at season’s end that the time was right to concentrate on swimming.
“It was a big decision that my family and I made all as one,” he said.
“The Capras were very supportive and they wanted me to see this through and achieve the goals I’m trying to achieve.”
Training has become the equivalent of a full-time job as Spark looks to clock qualifying times for the 50m and 100m freestyle and the 100m butterfly.
“My pet event is actually the 50m butterfly but unfortunately that’s not in the Olympics so I have to step it up and go to the 100m butterfly,” he said.
“My times in all three of those events are a second and a half off, that’s about 5m in the pool.
“It’s a big step up to try and do that but everyone around me believes that I can get there.”
Spark started swimming when he was about two and joined forces with coach Jodie Shanks at Caribeae Swimming Club when he was six.
Shanks said Spark’s potential was evident early on.
“He’s just got the gift. He’s a natural athlete; whatever he does, he does well at,” she said.
Shanks said Spark, who had only been doing random swim sessions over winter, approached her with his plan after the footy season finished.
“He said ‘I want to give this a go. I’m only 18 and I want to see how far I can go’,” she said.
“He’s in a fairly heavy workload at the moment. He has to improve on his swim fitness and drop some weight.
“I want to see how he goes over the next few weeks. Hopefully by December he’s right back down on his PBs and hitting those target times.”