Benjamin Treffers has been targeting the Summer Universiade in August since the beginning of the year as a major stepping-stone towards his main goal in 2018, making the Commonwealth Games team and defending his 50m backstroke title.
A member of the Uniroos swim team, Treffers is excited about the opportunity to get back to racing on the international stage in Taipei.
He is hoping it will be a chance for him to put the hard work he has been doing with his new coach, former Australian Olympian Ashley Callus, into action.
Treffers, a 50m backstroke gold medallist at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, is looking forward to returning to an event he has learnt a lot from in the past.
In 2013, Treffers competed in Kazan on the back of just missing the Olympics team in 2012 and the world championships team in 2013.
Competing in the Universiade ‘relit the fire’ in him, “it really helped me to start enjoying my racing again and competing at that top level propelled me onto a great year following,” Treffers said.
A great year it was. He made the Commonwealth Games team in 2014, swam a personal best and won the gold medal in Glasgow.
Treffers and Callus are hoping this Universiade can deliver similar results.
“I’ve only raced once with Ash at trials this year and I swam really well but it showed I was just a little bit underprepared given my short preparation time with Ash, so it’s great to have another opportunity just a few months down the track,” Treffers said.
“After missing the world championships team at trials we spoke about this meet being something we really wanted to target as a stepping stone towards next year.
“Ash has planned it all out and he’s pretty excited for what’s in store for me in the next 12 months, so I’m keen to go over to Taipei and see if I can swim as fast as I have ever swum and all that does is provide me with a whole bunch of confidence that I am on the right track.”
Callus, a gold medallist in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, has had a positive influence on Treffers.
Since moving up to Queensland from the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra earlier this year, Treffers has enjoyed the different environment he is now training in and the confidence his coach is giving him.
“Ash says that it’s only just swimming and it’s only a small part of your life, so you’ve really got to enjoy it as much as you can.
“I think that’s the change that I needed and his confidence in me is really helping, he’s pushing me to new strengths in the pool and in training.”
Callus’s knowledge and experience is also beneficial, “he has done it all in swimming so when he says something, you listen and take it on board.
“Being a young coach too he’s also so keen to work with us and although James [Roberts] and I have quite a big say in our program, he also sticks firm to his advice from the biomechanics and the physiologists and what his own opinion and strategy is.
“It’s working really well at the moment and I’m looking forward to going away with him and seeing what we can do on the international stage.”
This Universiade is also an opportunity for Treffers to demonstrate his leadership skills as one of the more experienced members of the swim team.
It’s another aspect he is excited about, “I’ve always been the young one on the team so it’s a bit of a change but I’m looking forward to that opportunity.
“I think if I can pass on any kind of leadership capabilities it’s through showing them what I’ve learnt and hopefully teaching them a few things about preparing for competition and what the experience is going to be like being in the village.
“It’s a very unique experience going into a village and presents many opportunities and challenges in itself, so I’m more than happy to share that experience with the other athletes on the team.”
Treffers spoke of the difference between a world championships and a multi-sport event.
At world championships, the athletes have everything they need in their hotel and go directly to the pool from there and back again.
However, in a village environment there are aspects such as long walking distances and the food hall to contend with.
“In the village you’re walking a couple of kilometres a day which for swimmers is kind of a big deal, and in the food hall there are so many different kind of options to choose from and people can overeat by being surrounded by that much food.
“There’s lots of little challenges which you don’t have at other events so I think it’s really important learning to deal with those little things.
“Certainly it helped me when I went to the Commonwealth Games that I knew what to be prepared for and how to approach different things after experiencing them at the Universiade.”
All of this experience and preparation is essential as Treffers looks forward to the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“I don’t think anything gets better than competing on home soil and doing it on the Gold Coast will be amazing.”
Article written by FISU Young Reporter Kirralee Thomas.