Why Ipswich swimmer so relaxed about Commonwealth Games
OLYMPIC silver medallist Leah Neale has been competing long enough around the world to know the expectation Aussie swimmers face at major events.
However, the elite Ipswich freestyler is preparing for this month's Commonwealth Games trials feeling relaxed and excited.
"My mentality about it all has changed,'' Neale said. "That has really helped the last few months.''
Neale won a relay bronze medal at last year's world championships in Budapest after sharing in Australia's 4x200m freestyle silver success at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In recent weeks, the former St Mary's College student has been pleased with her efforts at the NSW and Victorian state titles, leading up to the Commonwealth Games trials on the Gold Coast from February 28-March 4.
"I know I did better than last year so that's all I can hope for,'' she said of her valuable two weeks of competition in Melbourne and Sydney.
"I was really happy with my 400 at both meets.
"Everything is looking promising for the Commonwealth Games trials.''
Neale, 22, plans to contest the 200m and 400m freestyle events as her main focus at the trials. She has also nominated for the 800m.
"I'd like to get an individual spot in some events (on the Australian team),'' she said, having mainly been part of Australian Dolphins team relay successes in recent years.
"But definitely the 4x200 is on the cards as well.''
With selectors choosing three swimmers for the main events, Neale has improved prospects, especially in the 200m or 400m.
Having just enjoyed a short weekend break to celebrate her father Ian's birthday at Newtown, Neale said her training on the Sunshine Coast had left her in a confident frame of mind.
"I'm pretty much just training hard, getting it done and my mentality about it all is good,'' she said.
"We're just keeping everything pretty similar and not changing anything between now and the trials.
"I'm not putting any pressure on myself.''
Having the trials so close to Ipswich is also keeping Neale preparing without any added demands.
"I think it's a really good thing because we don't have to travel a lot,'' she said, having competed in several countries over the past five years.
"We'll be very familiar with the environment. It's all positive and an advantage for the Australians.''
Neale only had a short break over the holiday season - three days for Christmas and one day for New Years - due to the Commonwealth Games being in April.
She said the Aussie team swimmers were "just waiting to see'' how the new approach works having selection trials closer to the Games.
"I'm definitely looking forward to see how it goes,'' she said, having been on many national teams from junior competition into the senior ranks.
The four-day meet will feature heats and finals, with swimmers having to make the top three and achieve qualifying standards to be eligible for the latest Aussie team.
Neale will be part of a large squad of University of Sunshine Coast swimmers contesting the trials.
"I feel pretty good,'' she said.
"I can't wait.''