Sport

Col Pearse the world beater

By Andrew Johnston

THE number P310 will forever belong to Col Pearse, as will a world para bronze medal.

From the day he took the pool floor at the Para Swimming Championships in London, his name was etched into Australian sporting history as he become the 310th Australian to compete in para swimming.

“It was a pretty incredible experience,” he said.

“It was the first time I've been at an international event competing, so getting to be around some of the best swimmers in the world, learning how they do things and what I might be able to do better myself was amazing.”

One of nine rookie swimmers on the Australian team for the event, Pearse had been selected to compete partially as an opportunity to get some exposure the pressure of an international event.

Swimming in four events - the 200m individual medley SM10, the 100m S10 backstroke, the 4x100 medley relay 34pts where he swam the butterfly, and his pet event the 100m butterfly S10 - Pearse admitted it was difficult to remain calm in the lead up.

“The nerves were definitely there,” he said.

“For my first international event, it was really difficult as you don't know what to expect in the race.

“I started off with the IM on day two of the event, and I don't think I have ever been so nervous for a race in my life. But it went really well for me.”

Pearse finished his heat in 2.19.46, qualifying for the final, before taking close to two seconds off in a sixth placed finish in the final.

“Just to make a final was huge for me,but also to have a PB in the race was really good. It also helped to flush out the nerves and get me ready for the 100 fly.”

The young gun's pet event, Pearse put the world on notice in the heats of the even, finishing in second place while setting an Oceania Record in a time of 59.08.

But he wasn't done.

In the final of the event, Pearse would come from sixth place at the turn to power home for a bronze medal, breaking his own Oceania record at 58.60 to earn the third ranking in the world.

“Being able to get up and perform in your pet event is huge,” he said.

“You stand there knowing you've done the work and have earned the opportunity. At the turn I knew I was a but behind, but also felt that if I stuck to my plan then I could make up the ground.

“It was tough, a bit painful, but you don't hold back and continue pushing yourself.

“I didn't even know what to feel when I looked up at the board and saw my name and that I'd broken the record. You're overcome with so much joy in the moment, but it tales a while for it all to really set in. You've achieved something incredible in that moment, and it's something I'll forever be proud of.”

Pearse would add sixth in the backstroke to his tally from the event, and while he will take a quick break from the pool, has already cast an eye on Tokyo in 12 months.

“I've had a taste for it, but it makes me want to push further,” he said.

“I'm proud of my medal and my achievements, but I now want to take the next step. I'd love to come away from a major event with a gold medal, and I will be pushing myself as hard as I can to get to that point.”