Isaac Cooper

Young Citizen of the Year

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Ever since he was a child local swimmer Isaac Cooper had a dream to compete in the Olympic Games and last year, that dream became a reality.

The Bundaberg sports star made the Australian Swim Team and took on the 100-metre backstroke at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

He raced the semi-final and placed 12th in the world.

From there, he was chosen to head the 4 x 100 mixed medley relay where the team took home bronze.

Today, the 18-year-old has been recognised for his ongoing swimming achievements as Young Citizen of the Year in Bundaberg Regional Council's 2022 Australia Day Awards.

As part of his nomination, Isaac has been described as a "wonderful ambassador for swimming" whose success has "helped put Bundaberg on the world map".

The proud local trained for many years at Bundaberg Swim Academy before moving and still makes regular trips back to the region to compete and see his family.

Isaac said he grew up with a passion for the pool.

" I started learning to swim pretty much as soon as I could; I think I was maybe four or five months old," Isaac said.

"By the time I was five I was actually starting to train.

"I went to my first Nationals when I was 10 and when I was 16, I got my first age Australian record and then last year I was able to go to the Tokyo Olympics."

Isaac said his Olympics dream had come a little earlier than he expected.

"I was planning on hopefully making Commonwealth Games this year and then my first Olympics was going to be Paris," he said.

"So, I've kind of jumped forward a bit!

"I think that for me, my journey's only just begun and so I'm really keen to see how much I can push myself and just to prove to myself that there are no limits."

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Looking back on his time competing for the Australian Swim Team in Tokyo, Isaac said it still felt surreal.

"People always ask me how the Olympics experience was and it's just… there's no words to describe it," he said.

"It still feels like a dream."

While he now has even more competition experience under his swim cap, Isaac said there was one thing that remained exactly as it was when he was younger, and that was his disdain for early morning training.

"It's so difficult," he laughed.

"Every single morning I wake up at 5am and I turn off my alarm and I don't want to go to training, but I just think, you're doing this for a reason!

"I just want to win. I'm a very competitive person, and so I just I want to race, and I want to go to another Olympics and I want to go to Worlds to see what I can do against the best out there.

"I want to show the world what I can do."

Isaac said receiving Young Citizen of the Year at today’s Australia Day Awards ceremony was humbling and had made him realise how far he had come in such a short amount of time.

“When I was 15 years old I received my first Australia Day Award for Junior Sporting Spirit of the Year,” he said.

“I remember walking across the stage and I couldn't talk to anyone, my legs were shaking and I couldn't deliver the speech because I was way too nervous.

“So to be able to come back a couple of years later, it's very humbling to see where I've come from.
Isaac Cooper

“While walking up on a stage still has me absolutely scared, this time around I have a lot more experience behind me and I also know that all of those mornings where I didn't want to wake up but I forced myself to go to training, well it has all started to finally pay off.”