Passion and drive – they’re the key ingredients to Ella Jones’ attitude, and are proving to be a winning combination.
Jones will take to the international stage as a Dolphin for the first time next month, as one of nine rookies selected to compete for Australia at the 2019 World Para-swimming Championships in London, England.
Chatting to Swimming Australia at the team’s warm weather training camp in Cairns, QLD, Jones vividly remembers the moment she made the team. It was the proudest of her career to date.
“For me, I made it in the 50m freestyle, and I dropped a second-and-a-half,” Jones said. “I wasn’t expecting that at all.
“I looked up and saw it [on the results scoreboard] and I was screaming, ‘Oh my god!’ And mum and dad were in the stands and I was yelling. It was absolutely amazing.
“For me, it means so much. It’s not just about representing Australia, but it’s about representing where I’m from – Western Sydney,” she said.
“You don’t have to come from a big city or a big city club to represent your country and make it, so for me, that’s what pulling on the green and gold will mean – you just need to have passion and drive.”
Hailing from Penrith, NSW, and learning to swim in a small backyard pool, Jones didn’t start swimming competitively until she was 15 years old. But now that she’s found her passion, there’s no looking back.
“Having CP [cerebral palsy] and having my brother and sister who don’t, I never found something that clicked,” she said.
“I finally found something with swimming where I was on a level playing field. I didn’t struggle as much, and I felt it was something I really took to.
“I wasn’t holding people back or falling over – I could train and compete on a level playing field and that’s what really drew me to swimming.”
For Jones, the feeling of being in the water is like no other.
“It feels amazing, but it’s kind of hard to describe. It’s like I’m flying in a way, like I don’t have any restrictions. I don’t have anything holding me back when I swim. It’s just me and the water, which is pretty awesome.”
But Jones has also experienced some pain on her way to making the national team, with many long, gruelling sessions training under coach Nick Robinson.
“To get to this point in my career, it’s been waking up at 4:30am to make sure I’m at the pool by 5:30am,” Jones said. “My mum and my dad are awesome, my whole family is quite large and we’re all in on it. All the managing of work and training has been worth it.”
With the World Championships now just weeks away, the entry list is in, and Jones is set to compete in three events – the women’s 50m freestyle S8, women’s 100m freestyle S8 and women’s 400m freestyle S8.
“I think it’s going to be really surreal walking out on the international stage for the first time, and I’m definitely going to have bragging rights in my family for ever,” Jones laughed.
The 2019 World Para-swimming Championships take place at the London Aquatics Centre from 9-15 September. You will be able to catch all the action live on the 7plus app.
By Swimming Australia
Photo with thanks to Swimming Australia