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Following Mooney is paying off for new Bondy

Ben Armbruster can thank the endless hours spent churning up and down pools for his breakthrough Commonwealth Games selection. 

The countless kilometres clocked on highways were equally important. 

The Bull Sharks swimmer’s journey to Birmingham began in Stanthorpe and went via the Sunshine Coast before he followed coach Chris Mooney to Bond University this year. 

He started as a four-year old in a learn to swim class run by Stanthorpe Pool’s Gail Smail. 

She recognised his potential and he eventually joined her development squad, where he stayed until he was 18-years-old. 

The pool there in the chilly Granite Belt is only open over the summer months and it wasn’t until Armbruster made his first state squad that he began to train year-round, making the long trek to Warwick each day. 

After finishing high school, he moved to the Sunshine Coast to train with Mooney at his former club, the USC Spartans and it was there he began to attract some attention as a swimmer on the rise. 

“I wasn’t with him that long at the Sunshine Coast, maybe six or seven months, but in that time we had made huge improvements,’’ he said. 

“So, when he moved, I moved with him. 

“I really enjoyed his sessions and how he trained us and that’s what I was happy with and what I wanted to stick with, so I came here and it is really starting to snowball.’’ 

Armbruster went into the National Championships looking for some experience and was thrilled to come away with a second in the 50m Backstroke, the event he will contest in Birmingham, a win in the 18 to 20 years 100m Butterfly and second in the 18 to 20 years 50m Butterfly.  

He was enjoying watching the finals on the last night of the meet when Bond coach Kyle Samuelson called him with the news that has changed his life. 

“I just about fell over, it was a massive shock,’’ he said. 

“I was not at all expecting to make it, of course it was a goal, but it was kind of like a side goal and not my main focus. 

“It would be nice to go but I didn’t have the pressure on myself heading into the trials to make the team and I think that helped.’’ 

Although Birmingham will be the biggest meet of his career and a major step-up in the class of opponent, he’ll follow the blueprint that has served him well at every step of his career to date. 

“First time at a new meet I always try to go in just looking for experience, just to learn,’’ he said. 

“I did the same thing at my first state championships and first national championships, so this isn’t anything different. 

“I just want to PB (personal best) and do my best. 

“Being around all those older swimmers there is a lot to learn, they have been there and done everything so I am trying to soak up as much experience and knowledge as I can from them. 

“Hopefully I make myself not only a better athlete but also a better person around the pool by doing so.’’ 


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