Jacqueline Freney's stroke of genius

LOOK out world, triple Paralympic freestyle bronze medallist Jacqueline Freney is looking to add backstroke and butterfly to her already impressive competitive repertoire.

The Skennars Head swimmer, who won bronze medals in the 50m, 100m and 400m S8 freestyle events in Beijing last year, has great expectations heading towards London in 2012.

“Hopefully, at London 2012, the International Paralympic Committee will hold women’s relays,” she told The Northern Star.

“It wasn’t offered at Beijing, which wasn’t really fair as they offered the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay and 4x100 medley relay. I could have had an extra two races.”

Although she may begin to swim more backstroke and butterfly, freestyle will always be her favourite stroke.

And, judging by her performances at the 2009 Multi-Disability National Age Swimming Championships at the Australian Institute of Sport last weekend in Canberra, it’s little wonder why.

Freney dominated her age group, winning gold medals in the 50m, 100m and 400m freestyle events.
She decided to race in Canberra for a variety of reasons not least of which was to support the
inaugural event.

“I like to compete at least once a month for race practice, if possible,” she said.

“The Australian Multi-Disability Age Championships is the first time Australian Swimming has offered this competition, so I competed to support the meet and to encourage other age swimmers with a disability to commit to competitive swimming.

“Now is the time for competitors to start their four-year plan for London 2012.”

While she has committed to swimming at London and beyond, Freney has faced the inevitable letdown after her successful Beijing campaign.

She competed at the Australian Short Course Championships in September and the Queensland
State Titles just prior to Christmas, but nothing can compare with the highs of winning three bronze medals in Beijing.

“Beijing was the ultimate high and now everything else seems low-key and relaxed. It’s hard to get the adrenalin pumping to achieve personal bests,” she said.

“I am really really keen to again compete internationally but that probably won’t happen until the end of the year at the World Short Course Championships in the Netherlands.

“Until then I have the NSW Open in three weeks and the Australian Open in March where I want to be swimming at my best.”

And looking back on Beijing, Freney couldn’t have been more satisfied.

“I’m really content with my efforts; to achieve a goal I set as a 12-year-old is something pretty special,” she said.

“I have learnt so much from my experiences.”

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