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Olympic hopeful dives into USC biomedical degree

20 Feb 2020

Sunshine Coast super swimmer Lani Pallister will combine two major life milestones this year as she embarks on her 2020 Olympics campaign while starting a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at USC.

At just 17 years of age, Lani is tipped to be one of Australia’s great swimming hopes in Tokyo later this year following an incredible 2019 in the water.

The Maroochydore State High School graduate set a new Australian age record in the women’s 1500m freestyle at the 2019 Aussie World Swimming Trials, took home five gold medals from the Australian Age Championships, and was named ‘Female Swimmer of the Meet’ at last year’s FINA World Junior Championships.

“2019 was a huge year for me and it definitely took managing the balance between studying and swimming to a whole new level,” Lani said.

“I was away for my first exam block of the year and had to sit all my tests really early, and in Term 3 I was away for five weeks for the world championships.

“Swimming is my life, but I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, so I knew I had to be able to perform in and out of the pool to make that a reality.”

Lani, who also competes for the Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club, secured an OP score of 4 and is looking forward to starting study next week at USC, where she has joined the University’s High Performance Student Athlete program.

“I’m really proud of myself for gaining such a great OP but there were a lot of people behind the scenes both at school and at home who supported me,” she said.

The head of the support team is Lani’s Mum and coach, former Olympic swimmer Janelle Pallister (nee Elford) who competed in the 1988 Olympics as an 18-year-old.

“Now more than 30 years later I’m attempting to repeat the process, and that means the next five months leading up to Olympic trials are going to be full-on with training twice a day,” Lani said.

“I’ve chosen to complete my degree at USC part-time so I can give my all to both elements of my life, and hopefully enforce a little bit of balance,” she said.

“It was important for me to be able to study close to home and close to my training base at Cotton Tree pool. Four years is a really long time to wait if you miss making the Olympic team, so I’ll be giving it my all.”

- Megan Woodward

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