Many hours of training, early starts not a chore for Scott

Neptune’s Jessica Scott (16) gets ready for a swim at Moana Pool ahead of the national open...
Neptune’s Jessica Scott (16) gets ready for a swim at Moana Pool ahead of the national open championships next week. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
There is a sense of deja vu about Jessica Scott's competition next week.

The 16-year-old is surprised to enter as the third-fastest seed in the 200m butterfly at the national open championships starting in Auckland on Monday.

It is not dissimilar to a few years back.

Then she won her first bronze medal at the age-group championships.

That was something the Neptune swimmer "never dreamed" of doing.

But it turned out to be the first of many age-group national medals - something she hopes to translate to the open stage.

The third seeding came courtesy of a gold-medal, record-breaking performance at April's national age-group championships.

Her time of 2min 20.24sec broke former Olympian Elizabeth van Welie's 23-year-old Otago record in the girls 16 grade.

She already holds the 100m record for the grade, while her 28.41sec at the age-group nationals broke her own open Otago record in the 50m.

Despite all that she remains firmly focused on her goal - to get to next year's junior pan-Pacific championships.

She can qualify for those next week or at next year's age-group nationals, which she hopes to use the open championships to build towards.

It is that goal that keeps her going.

Nine pool sessions a week - including getting up at 4.45am four days a week - as well as two gym sessions require plenty of dedication after all.

"It does get quite tiring, but it's my passion.

"I actually enjoy doing it, I don't complain about turning up to training.

"I feel really guilty if I miss out on one training session. It's like what if I miss out on something really important.

"It's not a chore for me.

"I love constantly improving and the feeling of pushing myself to the limit."

Scott learned to swim at a young age, although did not begin to swim competitively until she was about 10.

She did gymnastics for several years and that helped bring strength in the pool.

Clearly one for a challenge, she gravitated towards the notoriously difficult butterfly.

It had been what she was the strongest in, so naturally put the most time into training.

"Just to get into a rhythm, I guess," she said when asked the key to butterfly.

"My strength in my races is my underwater kick. That was his [coach Kurt Crosland's] strength when he was a swimmer.

"He encourages me to push my underwater kick as much as I can.

"Your turns and underwater kick helps you a lot through the race.

"The butterfly stroke - you just need to get your technique right, you forget about the pain when you're swimming the 200m butterfly, but it does get pretty painful."

She has represented New Zealand twice in Australia, a highlight alongside winning multiple national titles.

Heading into her final year at St Hilda's Collegiate next year, Scott is still deciding what she will do upon leaving.

However, she is certain she will continue to swim.

The national open championships begin on Monday.

Fellow Neptune swimmers Caitlin Deans, Erika Fairweather and Ben Carr will also compete.

Madison Wills (Kiwi), Katie Short (Zenith) and Hamish McLean (Wanaka) are also in action.

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