Bond University business student James Roberts may herald a new era for Australian swimming, beating a field headed by former world record holder Eamon Sullivan in Canberra recently.
Roberts trumped freestyle’s elite at the recent Australian Institute of Sport’s International swim meet time trial, touching in at 50.03 for the 100 metres in ‘jammers’, the new legal swimming suit.
The 18-year-old hopes to maintain his current form in the upcoming State series, ahead of the Commonwealth Games trials in Sydney in March 2010.
“I’m thrilled with the result, it’s a terrific way to start the season,” said Roberts, who also set a new Australian 18-year-old record of 22.05 for the 50m freestyle at the meet, the fourth fastest Australian time ever.
“I’m competing against swimmers who are more experienced than me, and I’m just learning as much as possible through guys like my training partner and three-time Olympian Ashley Callus.’’
Roberts also toppled swimming names including Matt Abood, Cameron Prosser and Kyle Richardson at the AIS meet.
Roberts was a gifted surf life saving competitor who was turned on to still water swimming by his school sports teacher at St Andrews Lutheran College.
Bond University has been a popular educational ground for elite swimmers, having also educated Grant Hackett and Giann Rooney. At this year’s Australian University Games, Roberts and his Bond mates took out the 4x100m freestyle, 4x50m medley and 4x50m freestyle relays.
Roberts has been juggling his training with a part-time Bachelor of Business degree.
He starts and ends most days in the pool under the guidance of coach Graeme McDonald, and fills in the daytime hours with classes at Bond’s Robina campus.
Even though sprinters can expect to be competitive into their early 30s, Roberts enrolled at Bond as part of his post-swimming career plan.
“A Bachelor of Business is a broad subject, and I’d like to use those skills to maybe get involved in Human Resources or Marketing at Swimming Australia,’’ he said.
“I’d love to be able to continue in swimming in some way, even after I’ve finished competing.
“Bond has been really supportive and even though I’m only doing a couple of subjects a semester, the degree is fast tracked so I can still finish it earlier than I would elsewhere.’’