Swimmer Jack Ireland is off to Adelaide again to try and qualify for the Australian Paralympic team.
Swimmer Jack Ireland is off to Adelaide again to try and qualify for the Australian Paralympic team. Paul Braven

Olympic dream is a step closer

THE STAR factor in Jack Ireland's swimming exploits continues to rise and in just two days, the Gladstone teenager may take his place in the Australian Paralympic team bound for Rio.

The 16-year-old has just completed the Australian Age Championships in Adelaide and on Thursday Jack will swim in the in the open category of the Australian Swimming Championships where he has qualified for the 50-metre and 100-metre butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, as well as the 200-metre freestyle and 200-metre individual medley.

"If I get under two minutes in the 200-metre swim, then I will get in the Australian team," Jack said.

The confidence in Jack has risen as quickly as he has in winning medals at almost every event he gets in the water for.

"We got like a pole thing and I put all my medals on it," Jack said with a smile.

The year 11 Gladstone State High School Student also juggles school and work where he saves his money working at McDonalds and studying a certificate II in retail.

"I enjoy working at McDonald's because it allows me to earn pocket money, while learning a variety of workplace skills," he said.

"The other restaurant crew members and managers are very supportive of my swimming and encourage me to do my best at work, school and in the pool," he said.

Jacks swimming coach Tom Fronek said Jack already has the winning attributes and that's regardless what happens in the City of Churches.

"I would say that he's good and determined and that's the winning formula," Fronek said.

"I'm hopeful and Jack has done all the work and he just needs to fix his mistakes."

Fronek added that Jack just needs to shave off 4.5 seconds in the 200-metre freestyle to make the side, but also admitted he has age on his side.

Jack's confidence in speaking with people has improved immensely as the scrutiny increases aqlong with expectations.

"He started racing against international swimmers and learning how to deal with the pressure and taling with people," Fronek noted.

Jack's mum Sharon Ireland said as a parent she was appreciative of the support shown towards her son by everyone at McDonald's in Gladstone.

"All the staff are incredible, and we really appreciate the flexibility they provide Jack," she said.

"They're all fabulous for being so supportive of his disability and elite sporting level."



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