A special report on Josh Alford, who recently qualified for the Commonwealth Games.
COOMA'S Josh Alford was gob smacked when he smashed his 200 metre freestyle personal best time in the final at the Australian Open Swimming Championships.
In doing so he qualified for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow, Scotland this July.
Josh travelled with his family to Brisbane to compete at the championships, which were held at the Sleeman Sports Centre, Chandler from April 1 to 6.
Despite having a heavy schedule of events at the championships, he swam a personal best time in his 50m freestyle, 100m freestyle, 50m backstroke and 400m freestyle events.
Those performances meant he qualified for the finals in all events for the first time at the Open Championships.
Josh also set an astounding personal best in his 200m Freestyle Para Sport s14 event, which was a time trial selection event.
He had to finish in the top three positions and under the Swimming Australia "A" qualifying time of 2:08.54, to make the Games.
Josh had been consistent in swimming under this time in the lead up to the championships and his only concern was to perform at his best in the finals to ensure that he finished in the top three placings.
Josh swam a time of 2:06.06 in the heats to qualify for the final, which was a personal best.
He then backed up his performance in the finals, rising to the challenge in front of him.
Going into the final he was seeded third fastest in a field of 10 other competitors.
Josh and his team (Mum and Dad) planned for him to swim his first 100m of the race at a personal best time plus two seconds and then run the tank dry and bring it home as fast as he could in the last 100m.
Josh had other plans and swam the first 100m in a personal best time plus 0.5 of a second.
After making the 100m turn, the Team (Mum and Dad) were stunned to say the least and watched in delight and awe of Josh as he swam the final 100m and into the finish line in third place closely behind Daniel Fox of Queensland, who set a new world record for the event finishing first, and fellow NSW swimmer Mitchell Kilduff who claimed second.
After the race Josh came up to his coach (mum) and manager (dad) and was simply gob smacked at the huge personal best time of 2:02.72.
The nearest swimmer to the lead pack was a further five seconds behind.
Josh was delighted and all smiles afterwards realising that he had been successful in making his first ever Commonwealth Games team.
Not to be outdone, Josh returned to the pool again that night where he finished fourth in the 50m backstroke final followed by a personal best in the 400m freestyle taking bronze in the multiclass event.
It was to date one of Josh's best performances in the pool.
His selection into the team was formally announced on the Sunday night immediately after the conclusion of the championships were he was paraded on pool deck in front of his proud parents and other team members with their families watching on.
Josh and his dad Bob were then coached after the announcement of the team to the Mecure Motel in Brisbane to spend the next day getting to know other members of the team and go over the busy year ahead.
Josh was put through medical examinations, blood testing, health checks and completed further paperwork along with information sessions about what to expect as a rookie member of the Swimming Australia Team.
He, of course, got his photo taken with other profile swimmers such as James Magnussen, Cameron McEvoy and Christian Sprenger, just to name a few.
He also got his photo taken with long time idol Michael Klim who will join the team in Glasgow along with Susie O'Neill as team mentors and leaders.
Josh is now off to Sao Paolo, Brazil later this month where he will compete with a small team of other athletes from Australia at the Brazil Swimming Championships.
The team will be toured around Rio after this meet to familiarise them with the culture and venues for the upcoming Paralympic Games in 2016.
Josh was overwhelmed with the support and congratulations he received from his Tuggeranong Vikings Swim Club and Cooma Swim Club members and friends.
He would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support and would especially like to thank his coach David Murphy from the Tuggeranong Vikings Swim Club, his long time and first ever swim coach Michelle Thomas, the wonderful staff at Anytime Fitness Cooma and of course the numerous supporters from Cooma and the Snowy Mountains who cheered him on the TV.
Josh will swim in Glasgow on Saturday, July 26, both heats and finals.