JARROD Poort may not be the world's most naturally gifted swimmer, but the man responsible for grooming him during his Sunshine Coast tenure describes him as one of the hardest working.
The former Sunshine Coast Grammar student, now based at Illawarra, will line up in the 1500m freestyle at the London Games despite initially missing qualification.
At the Australian Swimming Championships in March the 17-year-old failed to make the A-qualifying mark of 15:13.83, missing out by less than two seconds.
His time at the Olympic trials was an 11-second personal best and he was eventually given the nod after FINA accepted the B-qualifying standard of 15:43.74.
Although Poort is ranked 34th in the world this year and not expected to make the semi-finals in London, his former coach says we had not yet seen the best of the long-distance swimmer.
Michael Sage, who coached Poort at Cotton Tree Pool for four years during the swimmer's early teens, described his former charge as the hardest-working athlete he had ever seen.
He said Poort's swim to take out the 14-and-under 1500m freestyle at the Australian Age Championships still stood out in his mind. Poort shaved 45 seconds off his best time to win by 0.01 seconds - the kind of massive leap that has marked his young career.
"I started coaching him when he was 12 and he wasn't one of the most talented kids - he was a late developer," the now Melbourne-based Sage told the Daily.
"But he was always a hard worker. He would always turn up to training. He would always turn up to meets.
"He's a good story for the younger kids.
"I guess Jarrod's a little bit different. He would always get to the pool early in the morning. He would always be out the front of the pool before training. He turned himself into a great trainer before he became a great racer.
"He wasn't always a great racer. He wasn't naturally strong.
"He's very self-motivated. At 13 he just qualified for the state championships.
"At 14 he made his first state final and qualified for the nationals and then he went on to win at the nationals. Honestly, he's the hardest-working swimmer I've ever had."
- Age: 17
- Based: Illawarra
- Primary School: Sunshine Coast Grammar
- Event: 1500m freestyle
- World ranking: 34th
- Personal best: 15:13.38
- When to see Jarrod: 1500m freestyle heats - August 3 from 7pm. 1500m freestyle finals - from 4.30am, August 5
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