Travelling toddler goes from rock pool splasher to Olympic swimmer

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Maddy Gough swimming
Just add water ... it's been quite a journey for Maddy!

A young athlete who learned to swim while on a two-year Outback camping trip has been named on the Australian Dolphins team to compete at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

A year ago, as part of our series about how the Big Lap had changed people’s lives, we featured the story of Maddy Gough, who set off on the adventure of her life as a four-year-old.

With her parents and two brothers, Maddy spent 24 months exploring every corner of the country in a 60 Series LandCruiser and a tent.

“While I loved everything about it, I mostly loved the water,” she told the GNT last April. “We swam at rock pools and rivers, beneath waterfalls and in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean … and I think I was as happy as it is possible to be.”

Fast forward 16 years or so, and that love of the water has grown into something quite extraordinary.

Last month at the Olympic Trials in Adelaide, Maddy broke the Australian record in the 1500m freestyle and, in doing so, realised a childhood dream.

She will now swim the event in Tokyo later this month. Her time of 15.46.13 is the second fastest time in the world this year, and she is considered a genuine medal prospect.

Hopefully, Maddy will soon count the Olympic pool among her favourite places to swim …. alongside the likes of Fruit Bat Falls, Bell Gorge, and Douglas Hot Springs!

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