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Paralympian named Young Australian of the Year

04 April 2014 Natalie Darnell

Paralympian named Young Australian of the Year

Paralympian named Young Australian of the Year

Fast facts about Jacqui
Age: 21
Lives: Ballina
Career Highlights: winning her eight gold medal at the 2012 Paralympic games
Gold Medals: Eight
Hobbies outside swimming: reading novels and listening to music

Jacqui Freney is no ordinary 21-year-old; with eight gold medals, the title of Young Australian of the Year 2014 and a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to sport, it is clear we can expect great things from this very promising young lady.

Jacqui says receiving national recognition for her swimming achievements is a “tremendous honour.”

 “Being named Young Australian of the Year gives me the opportunity to give back and to help others believe in their own abilities,” she explains. “We all have gifts. It’s about finding our passion, making a difference in our lives and the lives of others.”

jacqui4Jacqui is also the most successful Australian ever at a single games, and number one athlete from any sport at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Born into a swimming-mad family in Brisbane, Jacqui grew up in the water after her parents placed her in physiotherapy for her cerebral palsy as a toddler.

Having a father and grandfather who are swim coaches, Jacqui’s move into a swimming-orientated career path was perhaps inevitable; she was participating in local carnivals at the age of seven and competing by 15.

Today, Jacqui uses a cane to stabilise herself when she walks and relies mostly upon her upper body strength to propel herself through the water, however she has well and truly shown that she isn’t letting her condition defeat her big dreams.

“I believe we are all here to develop and evolve into our highest being,” she says. “Swimming is my number one passion. I would like to go to three more Paralympics, but no one knows what the future holds.”

In addition to her swimming, Jacqui works with Swim Australia as a motivational speaker.

She has a few messages she tries to get through each time she speaks; “believe in your own abilities; go after your dreams no matter what obstacles or challenges block the way; find your passion in life, work hard, keep trying and never give up!”

Jacqui has various commitments over the next 12 months to the Australia Day Council, and would like to become more involved with the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Jacqui's intense training schedule

Competitive swimming is said by many to be much like a full time job. Take a peek at what Jacqui's training looks like:

  • Intense training begins 12 months prior to major events like the Paralympics
  • This includes  nine sessions of two-hour intense swim training and two gym sessions per week
  • Plus more sprinting sessions in the weeks leading up to major events to up her fitness


Other articles in this edition:

Hydroxypure Chrlorine Free System

Autumn doesn't have to mean the end of swimming

Submersible pump uses no power

Underwater rugby in a league of its own

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