Toowoomba St Ursula's College student and promising butterfly swimmer Isabelle Mason got a glimpse of her future earlier this month when she ran into the head coach of the Australian swimming team.
The 17-year-old was visiting Bond University on the Gold Coast where she has earned a prestigious Georgina Hope Rinehart Swimming Excellence Scholarship when she had the chance meeting with Jacco Verhaeren.
Mason was greeted on the pool deck by childhood friend, Toowoomba’s Abby School, along with elite Australian and Bond University swimmers Jenna Strauch and Elijah Winnington.
It was a reminder of the elite team she will join in 2020.
“It’s kind of crazy that the Australian swim coach is here,” Mason said.
“There are so many amazing swimmers that are part of this program under (Bond swimming coach) Richard Scarce. I’m so thankful to be given the opportunity.
“Alex Graham is a co-captain of the Australian team, Minna Atherton just broke a world record. It’s amazing.
“I always told mum that I would be an Olympian but to be given this opportunity is surreal, knowing that I’ve got the best facilities and coaches to make that a real possibility.”
The full tuition scholarship will allow Mason to train full-time while studying a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, with a view to becoming a biomechanic at the Queensland Academy of Sport.
Mason grew up in Oakey and was dragged around Queensland by her three older siblings as they competed in swimming meets across the state.
After spending her childhood trying to catch up, she has now set her sights on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“I’m going to be able to get a degree that I didn’t think I’d be able to get coming from a financially tough background,” she said.
“I want to achieve my goals academically, working with the scholarship and training extremely hard with the swim group.
“I want to come as close as I can to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic team. Being young, I know the possibility is slim but I like to give myself hope.
“I’ve got a couple of months to get some really good training under my belt and there is no doubt that is a goal I’ll set myself.
“Paris 2024 is my major, major goal.”