Former Rocky swimmer selected for Rio Olympics
IN THE end, it took just under a minute for former Rockhampton swimmer Madi Wilson to book her ticket to the Rio Olympic Games.
But in reality, it has been a lifetime of sheer hard work and dedication melded with an incredible natural talent that has had the 21-year-old realise her sporting dream.
Wilson secured her Rio Games berth by swimming 59.2 seconds in the 100m backstroke final at the Australian Olympic trials in Adelaide, finishing second to world champion Emily Seebohm and well under the required FINA qualifying time.
"When I turned to see I had finished second I just felt like I could breathe again. It was a huge sigh of relief for me," she said of that incredible moment in the clear waters of the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre.
"This is the pinnacle of our sport and what everyone dreams of; it is what has been igniting my fire for the past four years. We race the world every year but to say you're an Olympian is something special."
Wilson said the presence of her family made the occasion even more memorable.
"My parents were there and my sister flew down as well. They were so excited; there were tears.
"It was not just something for me; it's something my entire family has worked so hard to help me achieve.
"They are so happy and so proud of me and that makes me even more excited."
Wilson fondly remembers Central Queensland, where she started carving out her swimming career.
"I've swum my entire life," she said. "My parents got me in to learn to swim classes at six months old.
"I went to Sacred Heart Primary School and did school lessons and swam with the Yeppoon Sharks, where I made my first Queensland team."
Wilson then attended The Cathedral College and the swimming achievements continued.
State selection became national selection and Wilson made the Australian senior team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, where she won silver in the 50m backstroke.
She followed that with a silver medal at the 2015 FINA World Championships.
And now it's an Olympic medal that is in her sights.
"Going into the Olympic trials it meant so much more to me because I knew how hard I had worked for it," she said.
"A lot of people think that you simply go to the pool and train. The reality is I swim 10 times a week, do three gym sessions, two yoga sessions and also have to fit in physiotherapy, massage, sports psychology, the dietician, nutritionist and then find time to study among that."
Wilson certainly has a hectic schedule. She is studying a Bachelor of Social Work at Griffith Uni, volunteers at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital and is an ambassador for Multiple Sclerosis Queensland.
She said she was motivated to give back to the community because of the incredible support she had received in swimming.
"When I went away last year, it was a really, really special feeling to put on the green and gold and know that you have the community and country behind you," she said.
"I just really wanted to give back and I was wondering what sort of things I could get involved in. There was an opening for the ambassador role and I jumped on that and through the QAS they do volunteer sessions at the hospital and that's really special to me."
And her already hectic schedule is set to become more demanding in the countdown to the Olympics, which start on August 5.
She flew to Sydney on Tuesday for the Australian Olympic Games official uniform launch.
What will follow will be a series of training camps in the United States and several domestic race meetings before the swim team goes to a staging camp in the US before it heads to Rio.
Wilson said her aim in Rio was to improve on her performance at last year's world championships.
"It's all about improving on my time and doing my best in the race under pressure," she said.
"The thoughts of medals are always there but at the same time I'm just concentrating on the process now and if I put my process together I believe it will be enough to get me on the podium."