The lid remains on the hype around a new teen pool sensation, but one wonders for how long if he continues to take down records by Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Ian Thorpe.
He’s the teen sprinter who has taken down records held by Olympic champions Kyle Chalmers and Ian Thorpe but Flynn Southam’s coaches are ensuring there’s no pressure on the flyer as he looks to take on some of Australian swimming’s biggest names.
Southam, just 16, won the open men’s 100m freestyle at the Queensland state championships, shaving his own age group mark by a fraction after slashing Ian Thorpe’s Queensland allcomers record by more than half a second earlier in the meet.
The Bond University squad member won the 16 years 100m freestyle in 49.42sec on the opening night of individual finals last week, breaking Olympic medallist Cameron McEvoy’s state age mark, and Thorpe’s Queensland allcomers record.
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He won the blue riband open sprint 24 hours later, shaving another two-100ths of a second from his own mark.
But that was not the end of his record-setting spree.
In snaring the 16 years’ 50m freestyle in 22.67sec, he set a new Queensland allcomers mark and broke Olympic finalist Elijah Winnington’s state record to win the 200m freestyle in 1:48.72.
While Chalmers’ 50m and 100m longcourse marks still elude him, Southam took down the Olympic champion’s marks at the state shortcourse championships at Brisbane Aquatic Centre in September.
His 100m freestyle win in 48.05sec was faster than both Chalmers and Thorpe had swum at the same age and he continued his form at last week’s meet where a new generation of Queensland sprinters emerged.
Southam touched out Olympian Thomas Neill (49.63) to win at the state championships, with the top five — all teens — all dipping under the 50-second mark, including fifth-placed Kai Taylor, the son of Australian swimming legend Hayley Lewis.
With the world junior championships cancelled this year, Southam missed the chance to test himself against his peers.
But after a break from the sport — he missed the Olympic trials earlier this year after a self-imposed exile — he is back to his best with coaches Kyle Samuelson and new Bond head coach Chris Mooney keen to ensure the exceptional talent does not burn out.
“The key word there is potential,” said Mooney, who guided Kaylee McKeown from talented junior to triple Olympic gold medallist.
“He is young and the famous saying is that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
“But I think we’ve also got to be realistic about, there is a plan, there is a pathway, and there is a lot of things that we need to continue to learn and to improve.
“I think they’re just reflections and good results to support that the journey is going in the right direction.”
Mooney was at Chandler last week for the state titles but Samuelson is currently guiding Southam, with the Olympic team coach to officially take over at Bond in January after making a post-Games move from the University of Sunshine Coast.
“He’s got a great team around him at the moment but there are a lot of things that we still need to learn to keep that process tracking moving forward,” Mooney said.
“And we’ve got to try and keep a lid on it a little bit and keep learning and keep performing.
“There’s always things for us to learn whether it’s a great result or it’s an OK result — we’re always looking for ways to improve and to learn and to help him with that journey.”