Every medal that has been draped around Flynn Southam’s neck over the past 12 months is testament that on that day, in that pool, he swam the fastest.
And there has been a lot of them.
This week at the World Aquatics Junior Championships in Israel he has already collected Gold in the 200m freestyle and the 4x100m mixed relay in a world record time, in a team that included Bull Sharks teammate Milla Jansen. He also added silver in the 50m freestyle and the 4x100m freestyle relay and bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
What isn’t acknowledged by a medal, but is valued almost as highly by the Bond University swimming coaches, is that each race for the 18-year-old is a survival of the fittest.
Both physically and mentally.
It would be difficult to find many swimmers anywhere in the world who have completed the race schedule the first year Bachelor of Psychology student has undertaken over the past 18 months.
The Hancock Prospecting Swimming Excellence scholar has competed in both age and open division races domestically and on the global stage in a packed schedule that has seen him claim gold medals in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay and mixed 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the World Championships in Japan last month and three golds at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and five medals overall at the World Short Course Championships.
It is all part of a masterplan designed by Bond Swimming coach Chris Mooney to fast track his development in an audacious bid for a crack at Olympic glory in Paris next year.
That is why he’ll depart Israel at the end of this meet, where he is a Gold medal contender in the upcoming 100m freestyle, and head directly to Europe for the pro-series World Cup meets.
“It has been a tough schedule for Flynn, he has done a lot of racing and a lot of travel and that is taxing both physically and mentally,” Mooney said.
“We have to be mindful of that and make sure we are constantly looking at ways to keep him fresh.
“But we are working with an athlete who is very driven and who understands that talent alone isn’t enough.
“Every time he hits the pool we learn a little bit more, each race adds experience, each meet adds resilience and they are all building blocks.
“So while it is a hard schedule, and there is no denying that, we are fast tracking his development and you can see the confidence he is drawing from that.’’
Southam has enjoyed going from the baby of the open Australian team to the big dog for the Junior Dolphins.
Jansen is the baby of this team and the 16-year-old showed she was a star of the future with silver in the 100m freestyle.
“Milla has enormous talent, and she is already producing some amazing times, but what we see is a swimmer with a lot of upside,” Mooney said.
“There are skill areas that we have identified as focus points where she can really improve.
“And she loves the sport, loves to compete and is such a sponge for information.’’
With breaststroker Gideon Burns also in Israel and making finals, Bond has a young team that can be a force in Australian swimming for years to come.
“As coaches we’re excited about the athletes we get to work with but beyond that we are really grateful for the environment we are in that allows us to help these young swimmers realise their goals,” Mooney said.
“That ranges from the facilities and the day-to-day support of the Bond sports department to the ongoing investment in our program by Hancock Prospecting.
“Each time one of our athletes is on a starting block the whole program understands that we are really fortunate to be there.’’