By Marc McGowan
NARRE Warren North swimmer Tyson Lawes stepped out of his father’s shadow to scoop the pool at this month’s Victorian Age Short Course Championships.
Tyson, 14, amassed four gold medals and one bronze at the event despite suffering from a cold and a chest infection in the lead up.
The gold medals came in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle and the 100m backstroke.
“I was surprised because I’d been sick and had had about 14 days off school, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to go,” the Year 8 Maranatha Christian School student said.
“I feel like I’ve improved heaps just from stepping up the sessions and slowly working on my swimming.
“Sometimes I do (feel the pressure of being the coach’s son), but after training he’s just my dad and we don’t talk about swimming at home.”
Tyson trains in Keysborough at the Haileybury Waterlions, where his father, Wayne, is the head coach.
Wayne has also been involved as a coach on several Australian teams and has won medals at state level as a swimmer.
“Being his dad and making sure he’s enjoying his swimming are my first priorities,” Wayne said.
“I’m pretty proud that he was still sick the day before and for him to get up and do that shows he is mentally very strong,” Dad Wayne said.
Tyson has a strong bond with his father outside the pool.
“He’s a great dad – an awesome dad. He can be really funny and dorky and can also be really serious and strict at times, but he’s good overall,” Tyson said.
“We like to go surfing or go to the movies, and he used to take me to the skate park – just the usual stuff.”
Wayne is very aware of the delicate balance between father and son – particularly in their situation.
“It’d be inhumane for me not to (look differently at Tyson to my other swimmers), but, regardless of their talent and ability, I do whatever I need to for every kid,” Wayne said.
Wayne has also considered the possibility of having to pass Tyson’s coaching over to another mentor in the future to maintain their relationship.
“I’m more than happy to do that, if it comes to that, because it’s not about me – it’s about him,” he said.
“I’ve already spoken about him to people I’ve got a lot of faith in.”
But while Tyson is keen to forge his own name in the sport, he has definitely taken on his father’s long-term view of his development.
“Hopefully one day I’ll represent my country, but you can’t do that at 14,” he said.
“I’m only doing five to six sessions a week. Last year I was on four to five sessions then I stepped up to six and I’ll slowly go to seven because you can’t be a champion at 14.”
By Marc McGowan