Sea change for former Olympian
Tranby College Year 6 students Abigail Derrick and Katrina Sparks with their teacher, Jennifer Reilly.

Former champion swimmer Jennifer Reilly has hung up her swimsuit to turn her attention towards helping Baldivis students reach their potential.

After being part of the Australian swim team for 11 years, Miss Reilly made the switch in 2009 to pursue a teaching career.

“As an athlete my parents had instilled in me that I wasn’t going to swim forever so I had to have something else,” she said.

“Teaching was always something in the back of my mind I thought I would enjoy.”

The 29-year-old now teaches Year 6 students at Tranby College and said she could not be happier.

“I think it is the kids — they are just good fun,” she said.

“When I show someone how to do something and I can see it on their face that they get it, I get a lot of satisfaction,” she said.

“It is a very rewarding job.”

With a natural talent in the water, Miss Reilly said it became apparent from a young age she would compete professionally.

“I started swimming seriously when I was 12 and made my first Australian team when I was 14, so it was quite a rapid thrust into it,” she said.

Miss Reilly represented Australia at the Sydney Olympics, Athens four years later, and at three Commonwealth Games and various World Championships.

While she did not earn an Olympic medal, Miss Reilly enjoyed better fortune in the Commonwealth Games, winning gold, silver, and two bronze medals.

Miss Reilly said it was hard to describe the feelings she felt on the blocks as she prepared to face the world’s best as a bright-eyed 17-year-old.

“I still get tingles when I talk about it now,” she said.

“It is what you work your whole life towards and when you are a little swimmer and training you never think ‘that it is going to be me’. Then all of a sudden you’re there so it is a realisation all the hard work has paid off.”

Miss Reilly said the camaraderie between fellow swimmers was her most treasured memory.

“You become such a close group because you see so much of each other. I would spend five hours a day with them training and so they become like a second family.”

Out of the pool, Miss Reilly enjoys her “normal” life and tries to have a little fun every day.

“I am happy with where I am at the moment. I love coming to work and I think this is me for the next few years. I’m not looking too far down the track,” she said.

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