You can teach a swimmer technique, but you can’t teach determination.
This is the view of Riverside Aquatic Centre coach Trent Hadley, who still remembers the early race days of swimmer Ariarne Titmus and triathlete Jake Birtwhistle.
The star athletes swam some of their first ever strokes at the community pool by the time they were both eight years old.
At the time they were just getting their start as part of Riverside’s junior squad and Mr Hadley was their coach.
With the Commonwealth Games launching the pair onto the international stage this week, Mr Hadley said the success was a testament to all of their hard work.
“They were both tiny little things when they first came to me,” he said.
“They both had their individual traits.
“Jake was a brilliant little runner, even then.
“They were both excellent at breaststroke, but weren’t without their flaws.
“What I do know is they were both incredibly motivated to do well, even at that young age.
“They both had that drive and you just can’t teach that.
“You either have it or you don’t and they definitely both had it.”
Titmus, who is now based in Brisbane, made history on Tuesday when she became Tasmania’s most successful Commonwealth Games swimmer with three gold medals and one silver.
Birtwhistle left the games with a silver and gold medal for the individual and team triathlon events and was Australia’s first athlete to win a medal during the games.
Mr Hadley said watching both athletes compete on the world stage was “nostalgic” and still remembers the three, one hour sessions spent with them each week.
“I coached them each for about five years, until they progressed to the senior ranks,” he said.
“Back then, we certainly weren’t doing the kilometres other squads in the state were doing.
“So for us, it was all about tactics and I think that was something drilled into both of them from a young age.
“Getting their technique right was always the focus.
“So those early laps certainly played a part in their development as athletes.
“You get that right and the rest of it should be set.
“But watching them swim even now I can see their technique hasn’t changed very much, so I suppose I might take some credit.”