“The year I started hitting faster national qualifying times was the year I had to decide what was more important…swimming or studying?

18-year-old University of Wollongong Engineering student Daniel Fusco

18-year-old University of Wollongong Engineering student Daniel Fusco

The final two years of high school prove to be the most crucial. Most are required to impose cutbacks in their lives to accommodate to the amount of study time required…social lives are reduced, the number of undertaken sports is reconsidered, and excuses including “I have so much work to do” are used to avoid tedious family get-togethers. However for 18-year-old University of Wollongong engineering student Daniel Fusco, the cutbacks were more severe than that.

What began as simply an out of school activity, swimming evolved to become essential to Daniel’s life. After numerous years of training at Corrimal Swim Club, Daniel began to train and compete competitively for the next 5 years, involving up to 15 hours a week. As the sport began to become more important than simply an after-school activity, the idea of competing professionally became a prominent possibility.

“There was a stage when I started to become serious about making a career out of swimming. My coach was pretty serious about me trying to make it. I put a lot of effort into the sport simply because I enjoyed it.”

But momentous external factors prevailed, and as school began to become more intense Daniel was presented with the hardest ultimatum he had faced thus far…swimming or school? Ultimately, Daniel chose to focus on his HSC and put swimming on the back foot, however this proved too difficult, and he found himself in a position where he had to remove swimming from his life altogether.

“While I did try and cut down my time in the water for a few months, it was too hard to keep up with the pace of my squad. Eventually I decided to cut training out completely for my HSC.”

To completely abolish something that possesses a colossal significance is not easy, however Daniel approached the situation without a sense of pessimism, and has since embraced his decision.

“I found other avenues to replace swimming as an outlet. Piano playing was another long-term commitment that I continue to do, which I started about 8 or 9 years ago. I also started surfing around 4 years ago. Although I don’t swim in a club anymore, these activities serve the same purpose…I can use them as a release.”

Although the absence of swimming would be felt from time-to-time, gained interests have resulted in diverse commitments that act as a substitute for full-time swimming. Although Daniel is only nearing the end of his first semester in Electrical Engineering, a passion for what the course entails is not a recent development.

“I have been interested with electronics since about year 7 when I worked on an electric motor with my Dad for a project. However I only really started getting serious with it in the past few years since I got into working with micro controllers.”

While at one point competitive swimming was the major focus in Daniel’s life, his decision to remove it completely has allowed him to develop a passion for numerous interests and commitments in a diverse range of fields, all serving a significant purpose to his life as a university student.