Going for gold

Going for gold

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Para-swimmer Ben Popham. Photograph — Richard Polden.

When Ben Popham was younger his physiotherapist gave him two options – either horse riding or swimming and he admits it didn’t take him long to figure out which sport he wanted to pursue.

Mr Popham’s swimming career has taken him to many pools around the world where he has competed against the best of the best in para-swimming tournaments.

The para-swimmer is juggling time in the pool with a Bachelor of Public Relations and Marketing and was just recently named as Curtin University’s Sportsman of the Year.

He said it was great to be recognised for the hard work he had put in throughout the year.

“While being top three worldwide is incredible my goal for the past three years has always been a Paralympic gold medal and hopefully I’ll be able to jump over that final hurdle come Tokyo,” he said.

“But initially swimming was just about having fun and staying fit with friends.”

Mr Popham’s training schedule is incredibly arduous as he takes to the water eight times a week as well as two sessions in the gymnasium.

He is also looking to start pilates to improve his fitness which would take his training regime up to 20 hours a week.

He said it is hard to tell how long he will continue to swim at a competitive level but that he is enjoying the challenges.

“I assume that a time will come when I stop enjoying it, which does seem a while away,” he said.

“In terms of future plans I’d like to try and give back to the sport that has already given me so much, I’m not sure what that looks like but that’s the plan.”

Curtin University vice chancellor Professor Deborah Terry congratulated Mr Popham on his achievements.

“In the past 12 months Ben Popham has continued to rise through the world para-swimming ranks, now sitting in the top three worldwide,” she said.

“Ben has continued to build on his successes in 2019 winning three medals including one silver and two bronze at the recent World Para Swimming Championships in London.”

The 2019 Curtin University Sport Awards were held on November 6.