It’s a warm Sunday and the air is filled with the sounds of splashing and laughter as kids play in the water at the Biloela Aquatic Centre. They are there to have fun.
But the young man sitting at a table beside the 50m pool is quiet and focused – for him the water is where he trains, competes and achieves great things.
Tyler Seagrott is 17 and a Year 11 student at Biloela State High School. He’s always been sporty, doing well at running and playing soccer with Callide United. But swimming is his first love.
Tyler’s mum, Kym, said it all started when he made the Capricorn team for swimming at the age of 11.
“Then, when he was 12, he made his first Queensland team and we went to Darwin … and it just continued on from there,” Kym said.
Tyler started doing club carnivals with Biloela’s swimming club, but then in 2019 he made the Queensland team again, to compete at the Australian Championships in Melbourne. As he needed to train for this event through the winter, and with the local pool being closed over the cooler months, Tyler joined Caribeae Swimming Academy in Rockhampton. There he started a new chapter in his budding swimming career with coach Jodie Shanks.
“She was brilliant, absolutely brilliant,” Kym said. “She took him under her wing and everything.”
So, every week Kym and Tyler made the trip from Bilo to Rocky for training, attending a few sessions each weekend.
This mother and son team must know that road to Rocky very well by now as they are still travelling there most weekends for training when they’re not attending swimming carnivals. Sometimes Tyler would referee junior soccer games first thing on a Saturday, and then it would be time to jump in the car to spend the rest of the weekend training in the pool in the Beef Capital.
During the week Tyler then trains at the Biloela Aquatic Centre with his Rocky coach sending out programs for him to follow.
So, this hard-working teenager has high school, soccer and swimming training to keep him busy. But that’s not all. He’s also taken his fitness goals up another level by going to the gym at Biloela Fitness, working on a program to suit swimmers with his trainer Brett Perry.
Just the day before our chat, Tyler had competed at a swimming carnival in Gladstone. How did he go? The modest teen quietly said he’d got seven PBs out of the 10 races he did, won several gold medals and was Age Champion at the event.
Like many young other athletes, Tyler has faced some hurdles thrown up by COVID over the past two years. Last year he was set to compete at the Australian titles in Perth, but the pandemic swiftly put an end to that plan. This year Tyler competed for his school and made the Capricorn team, and the Queensland team, but then COVID happened again and the Australian championships in Melbourne were cancelled.
“COVID’s wrecked a whole heap of stuff,” Kym said matter-of-factly.
But one shining moment in all of that disappointment is that Tyler did get to compete at the Australian titles at the Gold Coast in April this year. There he got PBs in all of his events plus had the memorable experience of swimming against members of the Australian Olympic swimming team. How was that? Tyler summed it up simply in one word: “Fun.”
Kym said the Olympians attending the event had a lot to give. “They will interact with everyone and spur them on and encourage them, which is good to see.”
Does Tyler have a favourite swimming stroke? He likes butterfly, freestyle and backstroke but he’s really an all-rounder when it comes to the water.
“He kinda has a go at them all,” Kym said. “He doesn’t hesitate, he’s happy to jump in and swim whatever.”
Another highlight for Tyler has been being selected in several development squads, including one with Olympic gold medallist Ariane Titmus in attendance.
It’s been special for Tyler to share the water with Aussie Olympians, and his dream is that one day, he too will be competing for Australia in the Olympics. For now, he’s working hard, training hard and giving his swimming all he’s got.
One of his first coaches (and a proud relative), swim teacher Nicki Radke had nothing but praise for this driven young man.
“To have got to this age and still be so dedicated is awesome,” she said.
The next Olympics will be in Paris in 2024, and then in Los Angeles in 2028. Keep an eye out and you just might see Biloela’s Tyler Seagrott wearing the gold and green swimming cap for Australia.