EXCLUSIVE: Shayna Jack Back In The Fast Lane – Now For The World Championships And Some Unfinished Business

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BACK ON DECK: Australian Dolphins National Head Coach Rohan Taylor was on deck to congratulate Shayna Jack on her comeback to competitive swimming at the 2021 McDonald's Queensland Championships. Photo Courtesy Wade J Brennan Photography.

EXCLUSIVE: No Celebrations for Shayna Jack Who Talks Crowd Support, Goals, A Weekend Camping Trip And Training On Christmas Day

Shayna Jack is in the zone and when her return to the pool is complete with her surprise entry into Wednesday’s 1500m freestyle at the 2021 McDonald’s Queensland Swimming Championships, the girl with that steely look back in her eyes is off on a weekend camping trip.

There will be no celebrations of a comeback that has been two-and-half years in the making; no parties; no toasting, no champagne…no time out to celebrate that her worst nightmare is over.

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ALL SMILES: Shayna Jack with Ariarne Titmus, Photo Courtesy: Wade J Brennan Photography

Jack is making up for lost time and she is very much back in the fast lane and elite athlete mode – with the goal of making the Australian Dolphins team for next year’s World Championships in Japan – and that’s even tougher than what it was when her world was turned upside down in 2019 when a positive doping violation cost her a place on the World Championships in Korea.

And with unfinished business to attend to it means sacrifices – and training through Christmas.

Jack captivated the attention of the Australian swimming community at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre this week – a pool that has been the mecca of Queensland swimming since it first opened in 1981.

Some of Australia and Queensland’s greatest champions have enjoyed their earliest competition memories at the pool they still call “Chandler” after the suburb where it was built.

Names like Sieben, Armstrong, Lemberg, Curry, Wickham, Perkins, Lewis, O’Neill, Hackett, Huegill, Henry, Trickett, Jones and the Campbell girls.

And when she walked into Chandler this week she admitted it felt like she had arrived back home.

“It was just like walking into home again…this is where I began racing, this is where I feel comfortable,” said Jack when she sat down exclusively one-on-one with Swimming World after completing a highly successful comeback swim.

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CENTRE PIECE: Shayna Jack satisfied with a dream comeback swim. Photo Courtesy: Wade J Brennan Photography

She may have been beaten by a finger nail by St Peters Western team mate, two-time Olympic relay gold medallist from Tokyo, Mollie O’Callaghan in the women’s 100m freestyle final.

But it didn’t matter – she had ticked all her boxes – and some.

SW: How was her race preparation?

SJ: “ Before the race, I tried to keep myself distracted….if I give myself too much time I will think the race over and over again and I’ve already swum the race too many times in my head and then I’m exhausted.

“I just tried to keep myself distracted….I watched The Vampire Diaries..I did my recovery today; I played with the dogs, just to keep my mind ticking over and when I came to the pool t I was just chatting to everyone, feeling comfortable…feeling like this is my home again.

“Just welcoming the swimming community again and bringing that crowd in with me and making sure they know I’m here for them and me knowing they are here for me as well.” 

SW: And at the end of the race?

SJ: “It was very emotional and a big relief off my shoulders tonight, touching that wall and turning around and one hearing the crowd and two seeing my time.

“I was overcome with emotion and even seeing (coach) Dean (Boxall), it’s one of those things that I’ve been through so much over these past two-and-a-half years and to be able to come back and feel that confidence in the water again and to know that I’ve still got it and in a way I am back and I made that statement tonight which I’m really proud of.

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OFF TO A FLYER: Shayna Jack wasted no time getting off the blocks. Photo Courtesy: Wade J Brennan Photography

SW: And what about the crowd?

SJ: “Finishing and coming out of the water and knowing that crowd was there for me as well was just one of those sensations that not a lot of people get to feel and I think it’s the kind of feeling you’d get at the Olympics.

“And for me to be able to feel that for my first individual race back and knowing that my friends and family and the crowd were cheering for me tonight and people who are complete strangers were cheering me on… 

“It’s just one of those moments that you just feel really proud with that I’ve got that love back for swimming again and that’s what I came here to do – to fall in love with racing again…and I really have come away feeling that…”

SW: And the support she has had on an unimaginable journey?

SJ: “I can’t thank the supporters enough….people who supported me through my Trial and they’ve supported me right up till now and obviously they are going to support me through the rest of my career…and a happy and successful career it will be too. And I really look forward to doing them all proud…and representing the Shanya Jack name well….”

SW: And on her swim?

SJ: “I was surprised with the time… but I did come in to this setting myself a goal of 54.05 which I did (in the morning heats)…and I was really happy and felt that relief this morning….and going in tonight Dean and I said this is just about me..don’t look around at the other swimmers next to m, .just focus on me and delivering a great swim and getting used to that race plan again.

“Because that was something I hadn’t felt in a long time and I did stick to me race plan and I nailed it and I’m so happy to come away in the 53s again….and working back to the goal and getting (down) to the 52s…

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HUGS FROM MOLLIE O: Mollie O’Callaghan and Shayna Jack put on a real show. Photo Courtesy: Wade J Brennan Photography

“I’ve got a a big group here for me tonight….I’ve still got the 50 free and the 1500m on Wednesday and (for a sprinter) that will be one for the ages.

“It definitely wasn’t in my books but it was in Dean’s and I’ll give it a shot and the fact that I am back and willing to give anything a go.

“And the 1500m(for me) is a scary thing to try and I’m not going to make it my pet event…..But I am going to give it a go…”

SW: And what’s next?

SJ: “I want to finish this week off strong….I’ll go camping this weekend and just relax….Christmas will be training all the way through…but I will have a great Christmas with my family….just at home…..it will be a Christmas that I can finally feel like I don’t have any other pressures going on around me; no other stresses; so the family and I can finally enjoy each other’s company without extra stress…

“I’ll be preparing for the World Championship Trials in April and it’s not long really. I’ll start buckling down and as soon as racing finishes we are back into some tough training..

“I’ve had an emotional last two years and I haven’t had goals..I haven’t had many highs and I really look forward to all the highs that are going to come next year…”

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GOOD TO BE BACK: Shayna Jack couldn’t hide her happiness when she first walked onto pool dedc. Photo Courtesy:Wade J Brennan Photography.