He’s not quite ready for Rio but 11-year-old Alex Tuckfield has his sights set on the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
The Year 6 student from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School Como won a swathe of medals at the recent NSW Swimming Championships at Homebush. His excellent results have led to selection on the NSW team to compete at the Australian swimming championships in Darwin in September. Alex will represent NSW in 9 multi-class events across the four strokes but his favourites are the 50 and 100 metres for freestyle and backstroke.
Once I’m in the water I love it.
His rapid improvement over the past two years gained the attention of the Paralympic coaches at the recent Australian National Titles in Adelaide and he has been targeted as a swimmer with potential to make a future Australian team.
He is a member of Sutherland Pool’s Aquadot Swimming Club and for the past two years has been doing squad three mornings a week and one afternoon with a Friday competition to get experience. Since he started training his times have significantly improved and at the recent national titles he broke all his personal bests. Throughout the season he also regularly competes in many local and state level swim meets.
“I was doing over 50 seconds for 50 metres freestyle when I started and then I got down into the 40s and now I am doing 38 consistently,” says Alex.
A water baby since his parents took him to swimming lessons at 10 months old, Alex says he loves everything about swimming, especially the way he feels when he’s in the water whether he’s racing or just floating.
The only time he hesitates about going to the pool is when his mother Agnes wakes him at 5am to go to squad. “But once I’m there and in the water I love it,” says Alex.
Each session Alex, who has cerebral palsy, trains between three and four kilometres which he says has made him much stronger and fitter. Also a talented cross country runner he has decided to concentrate on swimming and train hard for the next few years and see if he can achieve his goal of making the Paralympics in 2020.
His coach Allan Lainela says Alex has heaps of potential. “I treat him the same as all the other swimmers in my squad and if he keeps persevering and trying hard like he does he’ll progress to the next level.”
As for Alex, he’d like to thank Troy Moran, Sydney Archdiocesan Primary Sports Coordinator for his direct support and for being a great supporter of all athletes with a disability at Sydney Catholic Schools.