Recently, team members from FINIS Australia HQ had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Australian swimmer, Shayna Jack, after an intense training session. We delved into her rigorous Olympic preparation, the beginnings of her journey, and her experiences growing up with a dream of competitive swimming. Shayna also shared invaluable advice for aspiring young swimmers. Dive into the full transcript below to discover her insights and inspirations.

Shayna Jack in FINIS Tech Suit

Max: Okay, let's just touch on Olympic trials prep. What does it take to mentally prepare for this? Your lead-up is different to most people in the sport. What's it been like for you?

Shayna: Yeah, for me, I definitely wanted to come into this and enjoy the journey. I've watched a lot of other athletes go through the process and actually get to the end and struggle a lot post-Olympics. And I told myself I didn't want to get to a point where I forgot why I started swimming in the first place. So I said to, you know, Dean and everybody here, I said, I want to enjoy the journey so that no matter what happens when I touch that wall at the end, I'm proud and happy for the journey that I've actually gone through and achieved, and I still love the sport and love why I do it. And that's been my focus, and that's been my mental focus. So I don't get so caught up in pressure or expectation or anything like that. Basically, I can touch that wall, know I've done everything possible to achieve my goals, and whatever happens, happens.”

Max: It's been a goal to go to the Olympics since you were six, right?

Shayna: Yeah.

Max: Training-wise with Dean, how long does an Olympic preparation take for you guys?

Shayna: Yeah, for any athlete who's trying to achieve that goal of making an Olympic team, it starts four years out. So as soon as that one Olympics are over, it's actually on to the next, which is why people sometimes forget to enjoy that process because as soon as it's done, if you're trying to go for another Olympics, you already start planning and preparing for that.

So, for someone like Dean, who is a mad scientist when it comes to swimming, he looks at that Olympic prep and he just backtracks, you know, “When's the world championships? When's the Commonwealth Games? When are the short course meets?” He looks at all those kinds of things and tries to balance it out so that you are peaking at the perfect point at Olympic trials.

Max: Awesome. Dean's known for his hard, quality sessions. Can you take us through what a hard training week looks like for Shayna Jack?

Shayna: Look, it's definitely hush hush at St. Peter's, which is why when we did our Olympic blackout session we had a lot of people come watch, including the team at FINIS, which was so amazing. We are the kind of club that just push expectations. We push ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. And I think that's what we do really well. And not only that, we come together as a group and really support each other. I don't think I've ever met a group that would back each other as much as St. Peter's does. And having someone like Dean in your corner really makes a difference because, you know, some days I might turn up and I don't feel as good or things might not be going well outside of swimming, and he's that extra boost to basically get the best out of you in a program. I've watched so many different sports from afar and I think that that's why our program and our sport does so well is because our coaching and our staff don't just turn up to coach you. They also turn up to make you a better human.

Max: Wow, that's unbelievable. Okay, let's go back to being a young Shayna. When did you fall in love with swimming? Was it as soon as you hit the water when you were a kid? Or is it when you get that little taste of success? How does that swimming journey start for you?

Shayna: For me, it definitely started when I was an infant. I just started in the learn-to-swim environment and my older brothers did swimming as well. My younger brother still swims too and he currently is in the program with me. I'm so competitive and I don't like being beaten, so I was very competitive with my brothers. Whatever they were doing, I had to be doing it as well. And that's kind of where it started and we started to build up.

I just had that love for the water. I found so much peace being in the water. And even when I'm not training and if I have a holiday, I always want to be near water. I'm not a city person. I like to go to the beach and be in the water. So it's always been a love for me and it just continued to progress.

When I was 10, I met Libby Trickett, previously Libby Lenton, and she was down to earth, amazing, just a spectacular human that made me as a 10 year old feel like the best thing in the world. So I looked at her and wanted to be just like her. And it's just kind of crazy how things happen that now Libby comes out and supports me and supports the swimmers. It's kind of crazy how things happen.

Max: Did you have a moment when you realized, 'I'm actually pretty good at this!'? When did you realize this could be a career?

Shayna: It was probably when I made my first international team, which was when I was 13. Not a lot of 13 year olds can say that's when they first got to travel overseas without their parents, but I went to Indianapolis on an Australian A team. Dean actually was on that trip as one of the coaches as well. He was our four-by-two coach. I remember him going and picking a fight with Canada just to kind of make it a bit exciting. But I just loved racing. I think for me, it was that moment of, yeah, this is where I'm meant to be. I love to race. Training, you know, you're never always going to show up to what you do every day and always feel that love. But every time I race, it's just that feeling of adrenaline and nerves and all of that that you probably don't get anywhere else.

Max: Just lastly, there's a lot of people that potentially don't taste the same success as you at a young age. Everybody's on a different journey. What would you say to somebody, you know, who's not breaking records yet, but is still 14, still loves to swim?

Shayna: For me, I always try and think about, if you love it, then do it. It's always coming back to the point of, if you do love what you do, you know, continue to strive for that. I didn't know where I was going to end up, and even coming back to swimming, I didn't know where I was going to end up. I actually didn't think I would make an Australian team again because I had two years off. So it was basically the challenge of defining all odds.

Max: Cool. Awesome. Thank you.
Shayna: Thank you.
Max: Nailed it.
Shayna: Oh, thank you!
June 11, 2024 — Charlotte Nield