Kael powers towards Paris with top results

By Kirra Livingstone

NOT every student has a genuine opportunity to compete at the highest international level while still at school, but Kael Thompson is every bit a chance.

The 2024 Paris Paralympics is top of the bucket list for 16-year-old Kael, who is currently in Grade 10 at Maleny State  High School.

The Australian National Flippers Squad member has only been swimming competitively for three years, but her natural ability and competitive drive has already seen her competing overseas for the national squad.

Mum, Christine, said being in this elite squad was an exciting opportunity for Kael, who was using her motivation to make the most of it.

“This squad is all about medal projections and potential podium finishes in that Paralympic level, so to be in that squad, they project she will be on the podium within another two or three years,” she said.

“However, a lot of her races she is swimming in, are already the times she needs according to the squad in two to three years to be on the podium, so she’s hoping to attend the Paralympics next year.”

Kael competed at the Virtus Global Games in Paris in June this year, and broke the Queensland record for the 100m Breaststroke, the 50m Butterfly, and the Australian age record for the 50m Backstroke, as well as snagging another silver and bronze medal.

Christine said Kael has always remained humbled and thanks her excellent swimming to her attitude and her swimming coach Charles Barry.

“The relationship she has with Charlie grew, and he has nurtured Kael through her swimming journey,” she said.

“We found out she was intellectually impaired and Charlie actually changed his coaching approach to accommodate to her learning style, because he knew she had potential.

“She is quite humble, has really good manners, she’s very respectful, and not a diva and to Australian Swimming, she’s a complete package, she’s exactly what they want.”

After also competing in the Queensland championships earlier this year, Kael’s main focus now is to fine-tune her PB’s and preparation to compete at the Paralympic games next year.

“The big focus right now is the movement of her to head to the Paralympic selection team, she sits three tests, she’s passed the first two tests and she has her third scheduled for February,” she said.

“Other events she has coming up to help her along in that pathway is the Queensland short course in August, then the Australian Schools long course two weeks later.”

Christine added without a strong support system, Kael wouldn’t be able to achieve what she does, which includes going to the physio three times a week, a psychologist once a week and training every day.