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  • How an elite athlete manages to train, compete, win…and go to uni

    Darthea Clydesdale has competed at the World School Games in Qatar, broken several records at the Pan Pacific School Games, and trains 24 hours a week. And she’s completing a double degree in Business and Corporate Systems Management at Queensland University of Technology. . .


  • Josh Richardson & Melissa Gorman win 10km open water swim

    Brisbane Swimming Association held their open water meet on Saturday 24 September.
    Fiji Swims congratulates Josh Richardson and Melissa Gorman for winning the 10km open water race.


  • Louise Stevenson completes double crossing

    Bondi surf lifesaver and champion ocean swimmer, Louise Stevenson, has completed her double crossing as part of the annual Fiji Swims today to raise much needed funds for the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake tragedy.

    The estimate time for the swim was 11 hours, with Louise completing the marathon ocean swim in 9:45:24:03.


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How an elite athlete manages to train, compete, win…and go to uni

Darthea Clydesdale has competed at the World School Games in Qatar, broken several records at the Pan Pacific School Games, and trains 24 hours a week. And she’s completing a double degree in Business and Corporate Systems Management at Queensland University of Technology. So how does she do it all? And survive? Darthea tells us a bit about her schedule, her future, her accomplishments, and gives some solid advice for other elite athletes interested in combining their sporting prowess with uni.

Age: 19

What degree are you studying? Bachelor of Business /  Bachelor of Corporate Systems Management

At which university? Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

Which campus are you at? Gardens Point.

What majors/minors are you completing? Accountancy Major.

What year are you in? 2nd year.

In what year do you expect to graduate? 2014.

What are your 3-5 favourite aspects of your degree?
I love the independence of university and walking through the city everyday. It’s quite nice if you don’t have to be somewhere in a hurry. I also like meeting new people. Being at university has exposed me to a wide variety of people and I enjoy the mix of personalities and interests  that arise from various subjects/units.

What made you choose this degree at this university? I was, and still am unsure as to what I really want to do as a career. I therefore chose accounting as it was my top ranked subject at school and it often acts as a basis for other job offers. I specifically chose to complete my degree at QUT as I heard it is an athlete friendly university in comparison to other Brisbane based universities. The business school at QUT also has a strong reputation and was highly recommended by teachers at my high school. The location at Gardens Point is easily accessible from training as well as from home, making it appealing to me in that sense too.

What were the hardest adjustments coming from school to university?
The hardest aspect of adjusting to uni life for me was friendships. At school I was used to constant companionship and rarely found myself alone. At uni, however, it is often the opposite, as the friends you do make often have different subjects or tutorials. I am also a relatively shy person and do not make friends too easily. Attending tutorials and having group assignments, however, assisted the process of settling in and I now find I know quite a few new faces.

Another aspect was fitting tutorials and lectures in around my training schedule. A lot of the Corporate Systems subjects that I take have part-time lecturers and therefore tend to conduct their lectures at night-time only. This obviously is inconvenient and I often have to miss 2 or more sessions a week. The way I deal with that though is keeping constant communication with both my subject coordinators and my coach (he will often put on an extra session for me to accommodate).

What do you want to do when you leave uni?
I still don’t know. Either get a job at a firm somewhere or continue studying in a different faculty. Psychology seems pretty interesting to me right now, however that may change in a few years time.

When did you start swimming and why? I started swimming at 3months old in toddler classes with my mum and it just progressed from there. I first started doing squad training at the age of 10 because I was lucky enough to make the state titles and my mum thought that was the cue to start training a bit more seriously (from 1 x 45 minute session a week, up to 3 a week or so).

How many hours a week do you spend swimming and training, and how many hours to you attend uni and study? What do you do with your spare time left over?
Each week I would train for approximately 24 hours; maybe a bit more on some weeks. I am pretty committed when it comes to uni and will attend all of the lectures and tutorials if possible, which means I spend at least 12 hours a week at uni. The remainder of my time is spent either studying, at the gym doing a yoga class, or working. I work as a swim instructor, which is approximately 10 hours of work a week.  In my spare time aside from all of that I guess I just sleep, read, or cook (mainly desserts to my mum’s despair!). I try to keep things low-key, as most of the time I don’t want to exhaust myself in case there is a hard set in the morning.

What are some of your greatest achievements in and out of the pool?
I would say my greatest achievements in the pool would be my selection on the 2009 Australian Flippers squad to attend the Youth Olympic Festival. Also that year, breaking 2 or 3 (can’t remember exactly!) records at the Pan Pacific School Games and being selected on the Australian School Sport team to compete in Qatar at the World School Games (I sadly withdrew from this event). Outside of the pool I would say I am very proud of my academic performance in Year 12. I obtained an OP 2 and worked extremely hard to get it.

With swimming training, meets and constant competitions, are there any tips you might have for other sportspeople in how to juggle their time? Make sure you communicate with tutors and lecturers, as sometimes they will give your extensions or exemptions from exams or assignments. Otherwise, take a textbook with you in the car or on the bus. That way if you get somewhere early you can spend you time productively rather that waste 10 or so minutes waiting. Same thing goes for competitions. If it is a small competition such as a Brisbane meet, take your laptop or books along and do some study if you have large gaps in between races.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be the next madam butterfly (Suzie O’Neill) of course!

What is your favourite holiday destination or adventure?
No matter where I go, I still think Moreton Island (Bulwa or Cowan Cowan) is the best place for a holiday. We used to go there every year with family friends, however once swimming got more serious and I got less breaks throughout the year we had to stop going.

Where’s the best place to eat or have coffee on or off campus?
Best place to grab a muffin is the villager on George Street! Each day there is something new and wacky for instance fig, ricotta and pistachio, or blueberry and cinnamon with a crunchy muesli top.