By Grace Knight
World champion Flynn Southam is hoping to collect more gold medals when he spearheads the Junior Dolphins squad at the World Aquatics Junior Swimming Championships in Israel next week.
The teen star announced himself on the global stage at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan last month where he won gold medals in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay and mixed 4 x 100m freestyle relay.
He now hopes to claim individual glory against the best junior swimmers in the world.
The Bond University Bachelor of Psychology student has already established himself as one of the premier junior swimmers in the world after claiming four titles at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
His medal collection at open level is also growing, with three golds at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and five medals overall at the World Short Course Championships.
The Hancock Swimming Excellence Scholarship holder joins fellow Bull Sharks Milla Jansen and Gideon Burnes on the Aussie team while Bond Director of Swimming Kyle Samuelson will coach the squad.
While Jansen has previous experience in international competition from last year’s Junior World Championships, this will be Gideon Burnes’ first time on any Australian Dolphins team.
“They’ve all been training really well leading into this event,” Samuelson said.
“We always try to have them ready to swim their fastest times of the season at World Juniors.”
Each athlete aspires to come home a world champion and some will have multiple shots at a gold medal.
Burnes will compete in the 50m, 100m, and 200m breaststroke events, while Southam will take on the 50m, 100m, and 200m freestyle.
Jansen’s focus will be the 100m freestyle.
In addition to their individual events, each athlete will also compete in relays.
“I’m excited to see how they all handle what will be a heavy week of racing,” Samuelson said.
“It will be a good test to see how they can not only race, but also recover and back it up for multiple events per day.”
As the team prepares for day one on Monday, challenges await outside of the pool as well - the athletes will have to adapt to Israel’s high temperatures.
“Coming from a Gold Coast winter to an Israeli summer, it will be interesting to see how our athletes contend with the water heat and just general heat,” Samuelson said.
“It will be a step up and just another area of international competition that they will need to adjust to.”
While the World Junior Championships are considered the pinnacle of the season, there will be little rest for the swimmers with the Paris Olympic qualifiers to take place in early 2024.