Swimming, sport and all that Jaz

| July 16, 2014

Regardless of the level you reach in any sport, the life lessons and skills developed are invaluable. Jaz Forsyth from Swim Australia looks back on her own career as a competitive swimmer cut short.

10 weekly swimming sessions. Three gym sessions. Two running sessions. Weekend competitions. Physios, doctors, sport psychologists and nutritionist appointments. Early mornings, endless body aches and pains and no guarantee of victory…

Yes, the world of high performance competitive swimming is no walk in the park. But then, is any sport?

I once calculated how many hours a week I spent physically swimming – it totalled over 24 hours… that’s one whole day a week swimming. No wonder I often looked like a prune!

Yet, from age 14 to 18, this was my life – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I’ll always remember mum asking me if I felt like I was missing out on parties and time with school friends. I said I didn’t, as I knew I only had a window of opportunity to chase my swimming dreams, but the rest of my life to enjoy parties.

Often known as Jazzy G on pool deck, I medalled at various national and international championships (World Cups, Tri-Series, Mare Nostrum and Oceania Games) in sprint freestyle, butterfly and relay events, setting several personal and team, state and national records (age and open) along the way.

However, despite the years before, my story ended almost as quickly as it began.

In the leading months to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Trials, an ongoing back condition became remarkably worse, temporarily paralysing me three times consecutively.

It was at this point I realised I had reached for my last touch pad, and for the sake of my health must move on … and just like that, I retired at the ripe old age of 18.

But my affinity with water has always been bumpy.

I was about three years of age, ‘helping’ my mother clean the pool. Mum turned momentarily to un-kink the hose, and in that time I had escaped from her side, slipped on the top stair of our in-ground pool and sunk to the bottom.

Within seconds, mum had pulled me from the pool, and despite the splutters and shaken nerves I was fine. It was certainly a life lesson – no matter how cautious you are, accidents can and do happen, so always be prepared!

Now, as a mum myself to a very busy three-year-old daughter, water safety and the importance of swimming lessons has never resonated so loudly.

And it would seem I’ve completed a full 360. I’m back to where it all began – at learn-to-swim lessons, personally and professionally.

With a journalism degree and nearly 15 years of diverse media experience under my belt, these days I’m the media manager to leading learn-to-swim and water safety experts, Swim Australia.

While sport is not always easy, the reality is, no matter the level you reach – park play, school sport or competitive realms – the life lessons, skills, personal discipline and professional qualities it develops are invaluable.

And believe it or not, swimming from a young age can even make your kids ‘smarter’. Last year in world first research findings, Swim Australia, along with Griffith Institute for Educational Research revealed that regular and ongoing pool practice from a young age helped kids reach many developmental milestones – like mathematical-related tasks, as well as literacy and numeracy –  earlier than other children the same age, who had not participated.

It’s funny how things run in cycles, and in my case, quite literally. I’m absolutely honoured to be working in the world of Australian sport and more specifically in grass roots swimming. While my dreams in the pool didn’t quite eventuate, the life lessons and skills I learned along the way have most certainly and significantly helped create my future – a future I’m still yet to completely realise.



  1. lucas2014

    July 17, 2014 at 10:03 am

    It is also one way to develop

    It is also one way to develop camaraderie.