Eighteen hours a week, Zoe Deacon studies the black line that separates the lanes at the swimming pool.
For someone like her, an aspiring national level swimmer, no detail about the pool floor goes unnoticed.
Every little crack, every bit of uneven paint, a faded tile; each becomes as familiar as family.
That familiarity was soothing throughout last year.
The pool and her training offered welcome respite from the stress of her final year of school, and will continue to do so now that she’s moved to Melbourne for her tertiary studies.
This year presents a new challenge, a scholarship with Nunawading Swimming Club has the 18-year-old joining their high-performance squad, with an eye on competing at national level.
Deacon is no stranger to the national stage - at the Australian Age Championships last year, she claimed a gold medal in the 17/18 years 100m breaststroke, registering a personal best time in the process.
Consistently performing at that level is a deeply held aspiration for the talented swimmer.
“I swam a PB in the heats as well, so going into the finals I was just excited to race,” she said.
“I was incredibly happy with the result, I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
The victory opened up yet more doors - her times catching the eye of Swimming Victoria, who brought Deacon and seven other elite swimmers from across the state to the Singapore National Age Group Championships in June.
To say 2018 was a busy year for the up and coming swimmer, now Young Achiever of the Year nominee, would be a gross understatement.
Her commitment to her sport never waned though, and now Deacon is looking to take the next step.
“I’ve always loved being in the water, I find it very relaxing, but at the same time, I really love the competition,” she said.
“I loved having that break from school last year, it was important for me not to compromise or drop my swimming too much.”
While Deacon has fully embraced the new, high-performance mentality at her new club, her former club, Wodonga, is never far from her mind.
She travelled back home to support her teammates at the recent Country Championships, and says there’s something special about country swimming that is unique to the area.
“There’s a vibe about those meets that I love, it’s something I’ll miss, but I’m enjoying looking to the future,” she said.
Deacon is one of nine nominees for the Norske Skog Young Achiever of the Year award, with the winner to be announced on Friday, March 15.
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