Young gun Flynn Southam prepares to make his first big splash

Bond university swimmers training

Jess Bowen | July 21, 2022

Australia’s swimming future looks bright with Flynn Southam, who is dubbed to be our next swimming superstar after taking down age records held by Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Ian Thorpe.

Jess Bowen chatted with the rising star ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

I stood at the edge of Bond University’s swimming pool and watched the Bond elite swim squad train. The swimmers moved effortlessly across the pool without stopping for at least half an hour, and I started to have an appreciation the fitness levels of these athletes.

Chris Mooney, Bond’s Head Swimming Coach, chats with me in-between calling out some instructions to the swimmers. He tells me that the elite squad swim 20 hours per week, coupled with a rigorous exercise program out of the pool.

I ponder the huge level of commitment these athletes have to their sport. In addition to their intense sport schedules, most of the swimmers in front of me are balancing university or high school study.

I ask Chris what he thinks makes a good swimmer. Is it something that can be learned or is it natural talent that sets the best apart?

He tells me that while talent plays a part, he thinks the swimmers who do the best are the ones who are the most driven and focused on learning and improving their technique. Flynn Southam is one of those special few.

At just 17, there has been lots of praise for Flynn’s Australian competition performance. He was named as the Gold Coast Junior Sports Star of the Year and is already highly regarded within the sporting community.

Flynn is now gearing up to compete in the 50-metre freestyle as well as relay races at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Flynn Southam
Flynn Southam

“This will be my first international competition,” Flynn tells me.

“I’m so excited for it – I can’t wait. It’s going to be cool to compete overseas and see how all the big guys do it.  It’ll be great to have this experience before I hopefully head to Paris in 2024.”

I ask him what he’s most looking forward to.

“Racing,” he replies immediately. “I really want to race the best swimmers on an international level.”

“It’s going to be amazing to get to stand next to Olympic legends and be on their team – I’ve got a lot to learn from them.”

When asked if he’s feeling any nerves, Flynn assures me he’s getting no pressure from anyone. He’s more so dealing with the expectations that he puts on himself and the responsibility he’s feeling to represent Australia.

“There are people who have a goal just to make the team, and then there are people who want to win medals.

“I’m one of the people who wants to win medals and do Australia proud.”

I then ask how he feels about having broken the age records of some of the best swimmers in the world.

Ever humble, Flynn replies; “yeah, it’s cool – but I try to treat all of the ups and downs the same.”

“A lot of people overvalue the ups and then find the downs hard to come back from. So, while I think it’s cool – I just try to process it, accept it, move on and figure out how I can get better.

“I love the analogy of a lion. They get to the top of the food chain, but they don’t want their food delivered on a silver platter. They still like the hunt. Even if you are at the top – which I’m not saying that I am – it’s one thing to be hungry enough to get to the top but it’s another thing to stay at the top and not let people beat you.”

Flynn Southam – Getting ready for Birmingham.

Training at Bond University Olympic Swimming Pool.

Flynn at Bond University Olympic Swimming Pool.

Now that he’s older and training as a competitive swimmer, the Gold Coast continues to be Flynn’s chosen location.

“It’s definitely a great place for me to be an athlete. The Gold Coast has some amazing local facilities and we also get nice temperatures here – I don’t know if I could be a swimmer in Melbourne – I don’t handle the cold well.

“I’ve always loved the lifestyle. It’s great to be able to walk to a beach and have a swim, visit a café, and go shopping or to the movies. It’s so versatile – I can do everything I want on the Gold Coast. I love it here – I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

“There are so many opportunities for athletes on the Gold Coast, and we also get a lot of support provided through the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS).

“I currently access a QAS nutritionist and a physio and I’m sure that I’ll be accessing more services in the lead up to the Paris Olympics.”

Even though Flynn is just at the start of his competitive career, I ask what his highlights have been for so far.

“There’s been a few special moments. Breaking my first age record in December 2020 was an achievement that meant a lot to me.

“It came after our first major COVID lockdown which had impacted my mental health. I was feeling low and unmotivated. When we eventually came out of it, I had gained a lot of weight. So coming back from that, working hard to get fit again, and then breaking that record was special.”

I ask about who Flynn is outside of the pool and his athlete persona.

“I’m definitely a couch potato. People tell me that my spirit animal is a greyhound – I’m very athletic but love chilling out on the couch.

“Outside of that I love cooking, going to the beach, watching movies, and hanging out with my mates.”

As we wrap up our conversation, I ask what the next focus will be are for Flynn after the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth games.

“My next big goal is definitely the Paris Olympics in 2024. I’ll be training hard, getting experience, and taking small steps at a time to make that team.”

Heats for Flynn’s event are on Sunday 31July.

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