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Catch up with Para Olympian Jacob Templeton

9 February 2018

Jacob in his APEX Predator Slasher

Jake was born with a congenital eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa. It's a rare, inherited degenerative eye disease that causes vision impairment. As a kid growing up in Tasmania this condition didn't keep Jake from doing the things he loved, playing basketball and AFL football.

Due to Jake's peripheral vision being limited, contact sports became a bit challenging and risky. So at the age of 8 Jake made the move from the basketball court to the pool where he trained and competed against able-bodied swimmers up until the age of 18 when he made the shift to becoming a para swimmer. He says he views his condition as a disadvantage, not a disability but being able to race against people who are similar to him has been exciting and rewarding. He still feels like he can give the able-bodied swimmers a run for their money!

Because of limited visibility Jake has a tougher time than most when judging depth on his dives. He also finds tumble turns a bit tricky. When he's on his back, and there's a ton of splashing, he sometimes struggles to see the flags clearly. Smacking his hands on the lane ropes is also par for the course. Jake says these disadvantages are frustrating sometimes, which is why he enjoys competing as a para athlete.

Go long and strong!

Jake swims for USC Spartans Swim Club on the Sunshine Coast. They train as one team but there is an able bodied component and a para component. There are 9 athletes in the para group (4 with vision impairment) and out of these 8 competed at the Paralympics.

Jake just finished his last exam for his course in Sport and Exercise Science at University of the Sunshine Coast and will graduate in April, leaving more time for him in the pool. There isn't a vision impairment category for swimming at the Commonwealth Games so he won't be competing in April. This hasn't slowed him down with 6 pool sessions in the morning, 3 in the afternoon and 3 gym and 2 cross training sessions during the week. His teammates who are gunning for a spot on the team are training hard, so they're all pushing each other and keeping the para swimmers honest.

What lies ahead for Jake? He's looking forward to the Para Pan Pacs in Cairns in August, with the trials coming up in July. He's super excited as this will be the first time he'll compete for Australia, in Australia.

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