Teenager Flynn Southam made a great debut at the Commonwealth Games, taking home two gold medals while juggling his final year of school.
- Flynn Southam won gold on the men’s freestyle relay team at the Commonwealth Games.
- 17-year-old high school student breaks federal record, sets personal best time
- People around Flynn pay tribute to his dedication and the team that supports him
The 17-year-old from the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales helped win gold and set a new federal record in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
He also set a personal best in the gold medal-winning 4x100m relay leg.
Flynn’s mother, Fiona Southam, said he was overjoyed.
“I don’t think he’s ever been happier than swimming at the Commonwealth Games,” she said.
Southam said his son had previously struggled with the pressure he felt when he moved up the national ranks.
“[Last year] It took him some time to reset from the pool and decide if swimming was right for him,” she said.
“Thankfully he made the decision that he couldn’t live without swimming.
“He was back in the pool after a very short period of time and never looked back.”
Expectations are high among those who know Flynn, including Stuart Marquardt, Principal of Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School (LAGS).
“He set some age records. [Australian swimmers] Ian Thorpe and Kyle Chalmers had it when they were about 15 or 16,” Marquardt said.
“He has some pretty big goals he wants to achieve in the sport, and we like to think that this is just the beginning for Flynn.”
However, this achievement did not come without challenges.
With Queensland borders closed due to COVID-19, Flynn is no longer able to attend Bond University on the Gold Coast.
“There were quite a few periods when he couldn’t swim,” Mr. Southam said.
“At some point we actually moved across the border and had an Airbnb for a while so he could keep swimming.”
Onboard school with support
Swimming training added to what was already a daunting task for most teenagers: the final year of school.
According to Marquadt, LAGS has helped Flynn balance studies and swimming as part of a sports academy program.
“In NSW, the HSC requirements are pretty strict. [Higher School Certificate]” he said.
“It’s the team behind the scenes working with Flynn.”
Flynn completed several subjects at HSC in 11th grade, and while he was preparing for competitions abroad, teachers kept in touch about other assessments and course requirements.
Marquardt said he was happy to see Flynn’s success.
“He’s very motivated to succeed and is humble about it,” he said.
“He just put everything into it.”
Commonwealth Games gold medalist Flynn Southam swims towards bright future
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