Ruby ready to take Pan Pacifics by Storm

Ruby Storm broke four Australian swimming records and is off to the Para Pan Pacific Games in Cairns next month. photograph kate withers

Ruby Storm broke four Australian swimming records and is off to the Para Pan Pacific Games in Cairns next month. photograph kate withers


Ruby Storm was petrified of water when she was a child but you wouldn't know it from watching her in the pool today.

The 14-year-old super fish lives to swim and will get her first taste of international competition next month when she travels to Cairns to compete in the Para Pan Pacific Games.

Ruby won gold in the 200-metre freestyle and smashed four Australian records in the 11-14 years S14 class to earn her selection on the Australian team.

She broke the 200-metre freestyle record by more than six seconds, the 100-metre freestyle by more than two seconds, the 200-metre IM by 1.63 seconds and the 50-metre freestyle by 0.58 of a second.

Mum Fiona was still coming to terms with the weight of the astounding results at the Pan Pac trials and labelled them "a real surprise".

"I really had no idea she'd go as fast as she did on some of them," Fiona said.

"A lot of the records she broke she already held most of them. The only one she didn't hold before was the 200 individual medley, and she broke that one."

The results also earned Ruby selection on the Australian Para team as a development squad member – another bonus given she "wasn't expecting to do that great".

In the lead-up to the trials, the Traralgon resident went to nationals and medalled in everyone one of her 10 events.

"I really didn't expect any of this when she started swimming. When she was younger she was terrified of water," Fiona said.

"The only way we could get her to do swimming was when her older sister was having swimming lessons she would watch and then copy, and that's how she learnt to swim.

"She taught herself to swim when she was seven or eight and we were on holiday and she had a lot of wanting to beat everyone in a race."

It wasn't until later down the track that Fiona learnt about multi-class swimming and found Ruby's niche.

"We learnt that Ruby fell into the category for an S14 [swimmer] because she's on the spectrum and that's how she became a multi-class swimmer," she said.

Ruby is up before dawn six mornings a week for training, goes to school, then heads back for more training and doesn't get home until nearly 9pm most nights but wouldn't have it any other way.

She swims at Traralgon's Ford Swim Centre and Latrobe Leisure in Morwell and Churchill under the watchful eye of coach Dean Gooch.

"Dean spends a lot of time helping her in training to understand the program but also at meets. As a family we really appreciate his efforts," Fiona said.

"It's just awesome to see her do so well because we've watched her struggle a lot with other things."

"Swimming has been really good for her because it's repetitive, so the amount of training she does - the more she does, the better she is."

Ruby will swim in five events at next month's Para Pan Pacific Games and despite heading into the meet with form on her side, wasn't focussed too heavily on winning.

"I just want to go in there, have fun and get the best experience I can get and swim really fast," she said.

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