Nineteen-year-old Rachel Presser is swimming her way to the top, hoping to individually qualify for a spot on the Australian Synchronised Swimming team.
Swimmers selected for the team will compete at the upcoming Olympic Games, which will take place in Tokyo, Japan, early next year.
Presser said synchronised swimming was a lot harder than it looked, describing the unique sport as “ballet underwater”.
“Everyone sees what happens above the water but there is a lot that goes on underwater,” she said.
“There is a lot of whole body movement, muscle memory instinct and coordination required.”
The Tweed Heads teen, who trains up to seven times a week, said she utilises the small amount of free time she has to juggle the demands of a part time Bachelor of Arts degree at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus.
The Griffith Sports College plays a vital role in fostering students who are elite athletes, helping them devote time to training and competition while maintaining their university studies.
“Griffith Sports College is really helpful, putting sport first over education,” Presser said
“I am still very dedicated to both things.”
“If you have a competition or training camp coming up and you have an assignment due at the same time, they [Griffith Sports College] can be a little bit more flexible.”
“This really helps, especially when you’re too tired from training to even think about writing that thousand word essay,” Presser said.
Presser said she maintained her commitment to both her training and her studies by careful time management.
“As an athlete you generally try to keep on top of things and to not procrastinate,” she said.
“I think I’m pretty good with managing my time.”
“You just have to get it done in the end.”
“Between studies, social life and sporting you have to pick two of the three”.
“It comes down to doing what you love and what you want to do,” Presser said.
The young athlete took up the sport at age nine after the dance studio she was attending at the time went bust.
“My mum saw an ad in the newspaper for synchronised swimming that was up on the coast,” Presser said.
Presser fell in love with the sport and has been training at the Gold Coast Mermaids Synchronised Swimming Club since.
Presser will head to the Australian Institute of Sport in February next year to individually trial for a spot on the Olympic team.
Presser said she had prioritised the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as her main goal, although she said she saw herself being involved in the sport for many years to come.
“I’m in love with the sport,” she said.
“It’s [synchronised swimming] just amazing, incredible and unique.”
With only 200 girls involved in the sport around Australia, Presser said she hoped her achievements throughout the sport would encourage more girls with to get involved.
“Synchronised swimming is a sport worth checking out,” she said.
“People just see synchronised swimming for the funny caps and nose clips.”
“It is so much more than that,” Presser added.