Bundaberg's Isaac Cooper will make his debut in Tokyo on Sunday when he competes in the men’s 100 metre backstroke as part of the Australian Olympic Swim Team.
The 17-year-old swimmer will take to the pool for the heat event at 8.19 pm Tokyo time and 9.19 pm Australian time.
If he makes it to the semi-final, he will race again on Monday and, if further successful, will leap into the finals event on Tuesday before possibly being picked for the mixed medley event later in the week.
Isaac's Dad Alan Cooper said he was overjoyed that his son had made it to the Olympics, with the news initially coming as a shock to both of them.
“Isaac went to the trials just to see where he stood among the other swimmers, to see how he compared and to maybe aim for the Commonwealth Games next year,” he said.
“He hadn't been through the proper process and at the time, wasn't even considered in the top 100 potentials for the team.
“We were blown away and so proud when he was picked for the Olympics.”
Swimming in Isaac's blood
Alan said Isaac had a passion for swimming and was introduced to the water from a very early age.
“His mum Kathryn is a bit of a swimmer from way back,” he said.
“I think from day 10 Isaac was in the pool and by two years old he could swim 50 metres quite well.”
Alan said Isaac had always been very capable in the water which was often a surprise to some, given his young age.
“I remember going on holidays one time and Isaac was swimming in the hotel pool while I watched on,” he said.
“He was only four years old and all of a sudden a boy of about seven years old jumped in, thinking Isaac couldn't swim, and tried to save him.
“Isaac ended up being the one dragging this poor boy out of the water instead.”
Alan said Isaac began competition swimming when he started in the junior squad at Bundaberg Swim Academy.
It was where his skillset was quickly recognised and where he began breaking records and winning medals thanks to his training from coaches Scott Hamlet and Paul Simms.
Bundaberg coach proud of Isaac Cooper's Olympics achievement
Hearing Isaac's Olympics news was a proud moment for Paul, who said the young sports star had shown great potential in the pool from the first day they met.
“I was there when he shared the news of the Olympics with his family,” Paul said.
“He hugged his Dad first and then came over to me and gave me the biggest hug.
“I remember he said ‘I could not have done this without you Paul', then he started crying and I started crying – it was pretty emotional.”
Paul said Isaac's skillset was realised by Scott Hamlet when he was participating in his junior group.
“Isaac was about 10 or 11 years old when he moved over to my seniors squad and we knew he had plenty of skill because Scotty had already picked up on that,” he said.
“I think what we recognised most was, a lot of little kids just dive in and go hell for leather when they swim, but Isaac could hold the water at an early age.
“He didn't spin the wheels and splash about. Any kid that can do that has a big future.”
Isaac's passion for swimming part of his success
Paul said Isaac was the perfect candidate for the Australian Swim Team and would do Bundaberg proud, no matter the outcome.
“He is the type of kid that, if you built a brick wall in front of him, he would swim right through it,” Paul said.
“He has passion and determination.”
When he was 15 years old, Isaac moved away from the Bundaberg Region to further pursue his swimming career and has recently been training with Rackley Swimming in Brisbane.
Isaac's father Alan said his swimming has continued to improve further.
“He has been smashing times off his PBs, which is just fantastic,” he said.
“With even more training happening now in Tokyo he is really able to focus on better swimming techniques.”
The Cooper family, along with his Bundaberg coaches, will be watching on with excitement and pride on Sunday when Isaac takes to the starting block.
“I am taking next week off work especially so I can watch the Olympics,” Alan laughed.
You too can catch the Olympics live and free in Australia on Channel 7, 7mate, 7two and 7plus, with coverage beginning from 5.30am AEST on weekdays and 6am AEST on weekends.