The West

Jessica set for green and gold

Jessica Pengelly looks around the ageing facilities at Challenge Stadium and feels lucky to be there.

The 22-year-old was the youngest member of South Africa's swim team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but was still training at the time in a 25m pool with no starting blocks and water so murky that she could not see the bottom.

Today she is an Australian citizen living in Perth and thrilled to this month be named WA's only rookie swimmer to make the Commonwealth Games squad bound for Glasgow in July.

Pengelly has found her mojo over the past six months training under Olympian Eamon Sullivan's coach Michael Palfrey at a venue she rates as "amazing" compared with anything in South Africa.

"There's no place in South Africa that would have three 50m pools in one small area," she said.

"There's probably one good 50m pool in one city in the country, so this facility is amazing. I'm really fortunate to be training here."

Pengelly showed enormous promise in setting a South African record in the 200m individual medley at her first Olympics, but felt she needed to spread her wings to develop her swimming and her future outside the sport.

She moved to Perth with her family in 2010 after finishing Year 12 and, despite being used to travelling thanks to her father's work as a South African Airways pilot, admitted the shift had first proved difficult.

"The first year was a bit difficult with settling down, but every year's become better," she said. "At the end of last year I think I've been my happiest. It feels like my home now."

Six West Australians have made Australia's 59-strong swimming team for the Games.

Pengelly joins Sullivan, Olympian Sally Hunter and Perth trio Tommaso D'Orsogna, Katherine Downie and Madeleine Scott in the squad.

The West Australian

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