Emily Seebohm goes through her exhausting training regime which includes swimming at least 6km every session.
By Peter Scrivener
Not many athletes can claim to have held three world records and won Olympic and world titles by the age of 18.
But Australian swimming sensation Emily Seebohm can and that is one of the reasons why World Olympic Dreams is following her progress to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Seebohm, who competes predominantly in backstroke and individual medley events, is being touted to follow in the footsteps of some of the Australian female swimming greats such as Shane Gould, Dawn Fraser, Petria Thomas, Leisel Jones and Stephanie Rice.
In most respects she is a normal teenager, with a
a hankering for pizza but not vegetables and a fondness of the Australian soap Home and Away. She also lists the Pussycat Dolls among her favourite bands and is superstitious to the extent that she puts her swim cap on from the back of her head.
EMILY SEEBOHM - FACTS
Career highlights: Breaking 4x100m medley relay world record in 2007
Recent performance: Collapsed moments after winning silver in the 100m backstroke at the Australian Swimming Championships
What sets her apart is her prodigious talent in the pool which was nurtured at a young age by her swimming coach mother, Karen, who herself was pretty useful as an open water swimmer
This early tutelage obviously paid off because by the age of 14, Seebohm junior was helping set a new world record in the 4x100m medley relay on her way to World Championship gold in Melbourne in 2007.
The team of Seebohm, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper and Libby Lenton (nee Trickett) recorded a time of 03:55:74, more than half-a-second quicker than the previous best time set one year earlier at the Commonwealth Games by an Australian team that featured Sophie Edington on the backstroke leg.
Having won the Australian national 100m backstroke title to earn selection for the worlds, Emily qualified fastest for the final, ahead of America's world record holder Natalie Coughlin although she could only finish fourth, missing out on a medal by just 0.12 seconds.
Emily Seebohm celebrates bronze in the 100m backstroke at the 2009 World Swimming Championships
At the 2008 national championships, Seebohm set a new 50m backstroke world best of 27.95 seconds in the semi-final. She elected not to swim in the final though, preferring to concentrate on the Olympic-distance 100m backstroke.
The decision paid off as Seebohm became the first Australian to go under 60 seconds, stopping the clock at 59.78 in the semi-final and then lowering it to 59.58 in the final to earn selection for the 2008 Olympic team.
Olympic gold followed in Beijing when Seebohm, aged 16, swam her backstroke leg almost one-and-a-half seconds quicker than at the 2007 Worlds as the Australian quartet of Seebohm, Jones, Schipper and Lenton knocked an astonishing three seconds off their world mark.
BBC World Class is a project to unite schools around the world through World Olympic Dreams
Her leg of 59.33 seconds, would have been good enough for bronze in the individual 100m backstroke, but she missed out on qualifying for the final, finishing ninth.
Seebohm lowered her national 100m backstroke record to 58.88 seconds at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, as she won individual bronze before helping the 4x100m medley relay team to silver behind a China team that also beat their world record.
She did however set her third world record in 2009, with a 58.54 second swim in the 100m short course individual medley.
Seebohm has spoken of her desire to compete in the individual medley as well as the 100m backstroke and relay events at the 2012 London Olympics and she enhanced her growing reputation as a multi-event swimmer earlier in 2010 by becoming the first woman in 40 years to win the 100m backstroke and freestyle double at her national championships.
We will be following the progress of a selection of athletes and we would like to hear from you.
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