JAMES Magnussen is the new hero of the Mid North Coast after winning gold at the World Championships in Shanghai last Thursday night.
He followed this up by swimming the anchor leg in the men’s 4 x 100m Medley relay on Sunday night where he took out siver.
His Australian swim teammates have paid tribute to the new 100m freestyle world champion, saying his “incredible” performance will inspire them to swim faster.
Port Macquarie Swim Club’s highest profile member has been performing well for years now. Back in 2008 after he set a new record at the Mid North Coast District Carnival, the Port Macquarie Swim Club reported “James Magnussen absolutely flew in the 16 years & over 100m freestyle setting a new record time 51.89 - look out Eamon!”
Through hard work and dedication he has shifted from having fellow Australian champion Eamon Sullivan in his sights, to becoming a World Champion himself. According to swim commentators, James’s win in Shanghai has capped his rapid transformation from quietly-spoken country boy and relay swimmer to world-class competitor.
Local swim teacher Michelle Garvan taught James to swim when he was about 6 years old and worked with coach Michael Mullins at Port Macquarie to help develop his style.
To say Michelle is excited about James’s win would be an understatement. “I got straight onto Facebook and sent him a message,” she said.
“He’s grown into such a lovely young man. His grandparents are from Kendall, so they must be thrilled,” she added.
Local MP Robert Oakeshott has also passed on his congratulations. “The local community is thrilled for James and his family, and we are very proud of his efforts,” Mr Oakeshott said.
“Many of us remember a tall scrawny kid lapping us all in the local pool, and what we have seen in the past week is an athlete who has obviously stepped up his workload to now achieve the word-class standard he is setting.
Camden Haven swimming enthusiasts had a rare chance to meet and swim with James when he visited Laurieton Pool on Christmas Eve last year. “He was really good with the kids and chatted and showed them his Commonwealth Games gold medal,” Michelle Garvan recalled. “There weren’t a lot of kids there because it was Christmas Eve, but those who did turn up won’t ever forget it now,” she added.
James is the first Australian man to win the 100 metre freestyle event at world championship level. The performance came just days after he shocked the swimming world with his 47.29 leg in Australia’s surprise 4x100m freestyle relay win. His win now puts himself in pole position to become the first Australian to claim the Olympic 100m freestyle title since Michael Wenden in 1968.
There’s no doubt the whole of the Mid North Coast will be behind him if he competes at the London Olympic Games in just under a year’s time.