Tokyo Triumph For Aussie Farm Boy Col Pearse And His Paralympic Dream Created In A Dairy Farm Dam

Bronze for Col Pearse
MILKING THE MOMENT: Col Pearse, the boy who trained in his family's dairy farm dam in country Victoria, unleashes his emotions with a bronze medal made in the murky waters of Euhuca. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

Tokyo Triumph For Aussie Farm Boy Col Pearse And His Paralympic Dream Created In a Dairy Farm Dam


BITE SIZED BRONZE: Col Pearse and his prized bronze medal in the 100m butterfly. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia).

From training in a murky, leech infested dairy farm dam to Paralympic bronze in Tokyo last night – Aussie country teenager Col Pearse has a story to behold, surviving Covid pandemic lockdowns and 18 months of heartache and hope.

The 18-year-old schoolboy who left the family farm in Echuca in country Victoria four years ago to chase his Paralympic dream in Melbourne – training in Kew under Swimming Victorian Paralympic coach of the Year Matt King.

As a two-year-old in 2005 Pearse had his right foot amputated from below the ankle after an accident involving a ride-on lawn mower on the family farm.

Growing up this-tough-as-teak country kid did not let his disability in anyway hinder his active farm lifestyle, turning his talents to swimming and the dream of one day becoming a Paralympian.

That dream was realised in the Tokyo Aquatic Centre last night after a tough 18 months when he thought his hopes would be shattered by Covid-19 lockdowns and Year 12 commitments, forcing him to miss the Australian Trials, saved by qualifying times he had swum at the Australian Championships.

And an anxious tearful wait to see if he would in fact make the team – his the very last name read out by commentator, celebrated Paralympian Annabelle Williams and out of alphabetical order.

Pearse’s video reaction is priceless, posting: “I’m Absolutely stoked to be named on the Australian Paralympic Team for Tokyo 2021- a literal dream come true!! Melbourne Lockdown 4.0 and the commitments of Year 12 meant that I wasn’t able to compete at Trials in Adelaide. Thankfully, I had swum times enabling me to nominate for selection, and well, here we are! Emotions were running high on Wednesday night while we waited to learn whether I had booked my ticket or not, and well I guess the video speaks for itself.”


But last night Pearse delivered that faith the selectors had in him in spades, hanging on to take bronze in the 100m butterfly (S10) in a new Australian record time of 57.66 – and what was to follow was another tearful, emotion-filled reaction that had been bottled up for so long.

An overwhelmed Pearse could not hide those emotions when interviewed live on pool deck by Channel 7s Australian Paralympic track and field gold medallist Katrina Webb.

Pearse, with his family watching on form the family farm, broke down several times as he tried desperately to come to terms with not only what he had achieved but the journey – melting the hearts of seasoned commentators, his family and sports fans around the country.

Col swimming on farm

BOTTLED UP EMOTIONS: Col Pearse in his makeshift lane of milk bottles in the family dam. Photo Courtesy: Col Pearse Instagram.

“This just means the world to me…to finally get on the podium. Eighteen months ago, I didn’t think this is possible. And so for that to come, I think…I can’t put words together right now, I’m hurting and so emotional,” Pearse said after the race.

“At the age of 14 I moved away from home to make the Australian Paralympic Team and then obviously the last 18 months it’s been lockdown after lockdown and I haven’t had the same training as some of the others so it’s just been really hard.

“Last year when Covid hit we all went into lockdown and mum made a joke about the dairy dam and really once lockdown really hit it wasn’t a joke anymore and with hay string and bottles to make lane ropes and made it into a pool, so I was training in the dairy dam… but I never thought I’d be here….”


And then he revealed the pre-race melt down that threatened to bring it all undone.

“Sitting in the marshalling room…I had an uncontrollable shake..I had pins and needles in my hands and I could not feel them..I had to pour water on my hands to get the feeling back,” said Pearse.

“And for the first 35 metres of the race I didn’t think I was swimming…I still had the adrenalin going though my body.”

But Pearse’s back end speed and the faith and planning of coach Matt King paid off as he charged towards that prized bronze medal behind the Ukraine’s Paralympic golden boy sMaksym Krypak who set a new world record time and Italy’s Stefano Raimondi.



Pearse’s story will live on in the annals of Australian sport – of overcoming adversity, of a country boy with a dream and who wears his amazing heart on his sleeve – and the priceless vision of him swimming in the dam – christened “The Col Pearse Aquatic Centre.”

And if you’ve having a tough day, remember the words of the dairy farm dam boy from Echuca…“No matter how far you are down you are, you always have to push through, you can always make a comeback no matter what you are going through…in a drought you still have to milk the cows and going down a hard 18 months you still have to train…I guess, all country boys are tough…”

You can say that again….

Col and Mum on Farm

COWABUNGA: Col Pearse and mum Teena, founder of the “Col Pearse Aquatic Centre” Photo Courtesy: Photo Courtesy: Col Pearse Instagram.

Fam gym

THE WEIGHT WAS WORTH IT: Col Pearse in his make shift weights room on the family propertyn in Echuca. Photo Courtesy: Photo Courtesy: Col Pearse Instagram.

Col on Dam

DAM TRAINING: Adding new meaning to “Dam training” Col Pearse about to unleash in the family farm dam in Echuca. Photo Courtesy: Col Pearse Instagram.



  1. avatar
    Anita Killmier

    Slight correction – Col had a brief stint at Kew Swimming Club earlier this year but has always swum with Melbourne H2O Swimming Club at Prahran Aquatic Center. We are so proud of him and his journey to get there.

  2. avatar
    Max Simmons

    What is Col Pearse’s first name shortened from.

    • avatar

      He is just ‘Col’

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