International medallist keen to help clubmates
WATERWORX Swim Club spearhead Keryn McMaster enjoys being in the background, the quiet achiever who works hard and gets the job done.
"I'm definitely someone that likes to sit in a room and not be noticed,'' she says.
Not any more.
From becoming national champion to dual international bronze medallist, McMaster can no longer go about her business under the proverbial radar.
"Things have definitely changed,'' she said having spent her first six years in New Zealand before relocating to Queensland on doctor's advice.
"It definitely hit me when I got home and saw the family. I recently had my 21st birthday and a lot of family came over from New Zealand.
"Everything changed because everyone kind of knows now that I'm a swimmer.''
McMaster moved with her family to Logan to overcome asthma issues.
"My immune system and my lungs weren't developing and they said that I needed to go to a warmer climate,'' she said.
However, after progressing steadily up the ranks at Logan, her major successes have come since moving to Ipswich's Waterworx club with long-time coach Dean Pugh.
The pair has settled quickly into the Ipswich way of life with McMaster living at Augustine Heights.
Her status has dramatically lifted since she won 400m individual medley bronze medals at this year's Commonwealth Games in Scotland and the recent Pan Pacific championships on the Gold Coast.
One advantage of her recent rise is she can encourage the younger swimmers at the Springfield aquatic centre where she trains.
"I love it,'' the affable achiever said, of being able to help other competitors.
"It's good but it's also hard for me because a lot of kids are scared to get in the water because they are like 'she's a better swimmer than I am. I can't get in'.
"But for me, to be able to motivate them and teach them is good because I can use my knowledge and my experience to help younger kids.''
McMaster's burst of fame is something she hopes will help her focus on more international rewards while rubbing off on the kids around her.
"For them, it's good to have someone in your training environment to be able to ask questions and look up to and stuff,'' she said.
"I think a lot of them are now a little bit scared. But it's now up to me to talk to people first.''
Given McMaster's friendly and welcoming presence, it's likely any trepidation from young swimmers will change as quickly as she covers 400m in the pool.
McMaster's recent performances were inspiring enough.
After collecting her first Commonwealth Games medal in Scotland in July, she backed up days later in vastly different conditions to finish third again at the Pan Pac championships involving the Americans.
From the surprisingly warm weather in Glasgow, she returned to unseasonable windy and rainy conditions on the Gold Coast.
"I've always done open nationals and age nationals but it's never been that close together,'' she said.
"It's always been at least a month, two months so I've always been able to re-train and then taper again.
"But this time, it was taper, race, hold the taper then race again.
"It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.
"The wind was definitely a huge factor (on the Gold Coast).
"I was happy with my results. And to be able to go under my previous best again, twice in one day, I was stoked.''
Refreshed and refocused for rise to Rio
HAVING enjoyed a short break after the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs, Keryn McMaster is back in training for next month's national shortcourse titles.
She said her Scottish experience increased her appetite to make next year's world championships before the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
"I wasn't expecting it,'' she said, of winning consecutive bronze medals after knocking three seconds off her personal best in the Scottish pool.
"Those races, I wasn't going in ranked inside medal chance. Especially to back up the second time, I was kind of like I suppose the career starts now.''
Having been back in the water for four weeks has given the part-time USQ psychology student time to reflect. "I'll go back to uni and focus on that for a little bit as well as working on my training,'' she said. "I've found it really good to take what I've learnt and then put it in towards my training. Even though I'm only in my first year, I've definitely found what I've learnt to be helpful.''
After the national shortcourse titles in Adelaide, she'll prepare for the state championships at Chandler (December) and race in the BHP Aquatic Super Series in January.
National trials are being held in April for the world championships in Russia (July). "What we do in the next two years will be solely focused on the Olympics in 2016,'' McMaster said. "It's good racing those girls and knowing what level they are at and knowing that I can do that and I'm competitive as well.
"It definitely gave me a much bigger drive than I thought I had.''