SWIMMINGBy ZAIDA GLIBANOVIC OUR very own Paralympian, Emily Beecroft is back on home soil before she starts the new season. Having just come home from the World Championships in Manchester in the United Kingdom where she won Bronze in the 100 metre butterfly in a personal best time of 1:08.66, amazingly, trimming almost three seconds off her heat swim of 1:11.10, Beecroft also fell just short of a podium finish on the 50m, 100m freestyle and the medley relay. “Overall it was a really great meet, I was really happy with how I performed,” the Traralgon local said. Having experienced many changes recently Beecroft said she was impressed at her results considering the major adjustments she’s made. “I had a lot of changes in the last year with coaching changes, it was all about getting adjusted to my new coach and the training style that he does,” she said. Now under Harley Connolly, the head coach of the Paralympic hub program at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Beecroft is making waves in the pool. “I was definitely nervous going into it but I bounced back and was able to put my trust into him,” she said. “It was all about building a relationship and building trust with him and his training and I definitely feel like it’s working as its paid off with my result at World Championships.” Moving to Queensland a few years ago, Beecroft trains at the USC Spartans Swim Club with some of the best in the country. “I train about 16 times a week which makes not much time for anything else but training,” she said. Beecroft said her Bachelor of Communications at the University of the Sunshine Coast is a good distraction when she’s not in the pool. “I go to Uni as well so it’s basically just training and squeezing in time for Uni and recovering as much as possible so I’m ready for the next training session,” she said. “It’s literally just go, go, go.” Beecroft represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, with a shot now at a place in the Paris 2024 swim team. The star swimmer has been kicking life goals both outside and inside the pool. “My proudest achievement is probably last year the 2022 World Championships – I won my first individual international medal,” she said. Born a triplet of three girls, Beecroft was born deaf in her left ear with a right arm limb deficiency, but that never stopped her from achieving big things. The young athlete credits her family for their support and encouragement to take every opportunity provided to her. Beecroft loves coming home not only to see her family but to use the world class facilities at the Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre (GPAC) in Traralgon. “I’m super lucky, my coach has a lot of trust in me when I come home knowing that I have a fantastic pool to train at,” she said. “Having a massive facility like (GPAC) helps me keep motivated – I love coming home to see my family but I’ve gotta train as well.” Having uprooted her life away from her family to Queensland to have better access to Paralympic facilities, Beecroft says she’s grateful to be able to come back to Traralgon and relax when the professional athlete lifestyle gets too overwhelming. “I’m so lucky I’m so close to my family and they always have open arms and welcome me back home whenever I want,” she said. “If I ever feel burnt out or just need a break, I can just hop on a flight, come home, recharge and get back to my job.” Recalling her childhood as a sporty kid, Beecroft had tried athletics and netball before deciding to concentrate on swimming and began competing in 2010 “When I first started swimming in 2010 I was the only person swimming with a disability – I used to have to swim by myself a lot,” she said. “Leaving the club in 2021 there were a couple of swimmers in Traralgon who are multi-class swimmers and even more in the region. I was really proud to have an impact on it.” Discussing inclusion and acceptance in regional swimming clubs, Beecroft said the bigger opportunities will always be in metropolitan areas. “If I wanted to get any race practice with other swimmers I would have to go down to Melbourne,” she said. “That was a lot of sacrifice from my parents and I was so lucky they would have dropped everything for me. “Just even now Victoria doesn’t have a lot of Paralympians, you find a lot of elite swimmers travel over to Queensland as I suppose they have a lot more funding – a lot more support over there.” Being a Traralgon local born and raised, competing at the highest level and in the Commonwealth Games, Beecroft was devastated at the news of the regional 2026 Commonwealth Games cancellation. “I was pretty devastated, I mean – I competed at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and to have that as a home game was amazing. Never experienced anything like it,” she said. “To have it in Victoria, in my home state would have been even more amazing, and I was really pushing for that competition.” Looking past just the Commonwealth, the young star has her eyes set for the world stage with the Paris Paralympic Games in 2024. “I’m hoping to qualify for my third Paralympics in Paris and I’m really confident I can do that under my new coach and under this new training style,” she said. Beecroft will no doubt be working hard to top the stellar seasons she’s had in the past. Winning Silver in the women’s 100m freestyle S9 at her second Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022, an accolade that helped earn her the University of the Sunshine Coast’s Sports Person of the Year for 2022. Four years earlier, she finished fourth in the 100m freestyle S9 at her first Games on the Gold Coast. Beecroft has set some personal goals to trust the process and continue learning going into 2024. “I’m really looking forward to see what the next season brings,” she said. With that being said, keep your eyes peeled for the Beecroft name when the Australian Paralympic Paris Games team is announced.