In a short amount of time, Daniel McEwen has gone a long way.
The talented swimmer from Cherrybrook has qualified in eight events in the multi-class category of the Pacific School Games to be held in early December.
From when he qualified for the Games in April, where he finished second in the 50m breaststroke and butterfly events, Daniel, 12, has started doing two sessions a week at Carlile Swimming at Cherrybrook and noticed a big improvement.
“I feel heaps better - I’m even diving off the blocks,” he said.
“I’ve been swimming for quite a while – since before I could walk.
“I feel nervous but mostly excited and it will be a good experience.”
Daniel is classified as an S14 athlete, which covers swimmers with intellectual disabilities. He is classed as having a mild intellectual disability. He is an active athlete, also playing cricket, soccer and AFL.
The Pacific School Games will be his first experience representing the state.
It will be a busy meet for Daniel, who will race in the 200m individual medley, 50m and 100m breaststroke, 50m and 100m butterfly, 50m freestyle, 4x50m medley relay and 4x50m freestyle relay.
While he is eager to compete, the social side of things has piqued his interest.
“I feel excited and I’m looking forward to it because when I got my clothes, I also got these badges,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to switching badges with other people I meet.”
Outside of competing, Daniel said he was excited to be able to see the Ashes test at the Adelaide Oval during the competition.
Daniel’s mother Margot said it has been “surreal until we get there”.
“It doesn’t matter what the outcome is, he’s made it to this top competition and we’re so proud of him,” Mrs McEwen said.
“I had to fight back tears when I heard he’d made it. He qualified in April and because he did breaststroke and butterfly were his final events we didn’t know literally until right at the end of his competition.”
Daniel attends Asquith Public School where he is part of the support unit.
Mrs McEwen said the school had been active about offering Daniel as many opportunities as possible.
“We were very lucky that we had a mum at school who was very proactive about getting the kids into multi-class and AWD (Athletes with Disabilities),” she said. “She encouraged everyone and here we are.”
The Pacific School Games are expected to attract around 4000 students from across Australia and at least 14 other countries to compete in 11 different sports. The Games will run in Adelaide from December 3-9.