Jack Swift Paralympian never fails to motivate and inspire students

Jack Swift Paralympian never fails to motivate and inspire students

Mar 3, 2015

Jack Swift

Last Wednesday, Year 11 and 12 students were fortunate enough to attend a ConnectED session in which special guest speaker Jack Swift spoke to the students about his incredible life journey. Jack’s story was truly inspirational, and the students were riveted as he related details of the workplace accident that resulted in the amputation of his lower leg, and his subsequent battles to overcome his injuries and go on to represent Australian at the Paralympic Games in London in 2012. He also spoke of his ambition to represent Australia at the next Olympics in Rio de Janerio in 2016, albeit in a different event to that in which he competed in London.

In relaying his story to the students, Jack spoke of the importance of not dwelling on misfortune but rather facing up to the challenges that life presents. He also spoke of how, when he did start to feel sorry for himself, he would think of those people he meet in the rehabilitation centre that were destined to live the rest of their life in a wheelchair as a result of being left paralysed, and he would be reminded of the fact that there are always people worse off than yourself. He also challenged students to accept that there will be many setbacks along the way – he experienced many of these during his rehab – and that you can either choose to let these setbacks stop you from achieving your goals and dreams or you can face up to them and set about overcoming them. Finally, he spoke of the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family – without the support of these he doubted that he would ever have achieved the level of success that he has.

These messages were of course all highly relevant to our Year 11 and 12 students as they undertake the final two and arguably most important, years of their secondary schooling. Resilience, sacrifice, motivation, effort, desire, attitude and support are all part of the recipe for success at school just as they are for life in general.

 Jack’s Story:

At just 21-years-of-age Jack’s life was forever changed when while working in the construction industry, a 14-tonne excavator crushed his right leg in a trenching accident. The extent of damage sustained resulted in his leg having to be amputated below the knee. Having been an avid sportsperson before his accident, Jack now faced a future in which he may have been unable to ever run again, and this realisation was the first of many challenges that he faced as part of his recuperation. However, after the amputation and undergoing extensive skin grafts to save his knee as well as many months of rehabilitation, Jack began to walk in a hydrotherapy pool. In doing so he began to feel as if he was getting control of his life back and, slowly, he learned to walk again with the aid of a prosthesis. It was whilst recovering that he was introduced to triple Paralympic athletics star Don Elgin, who encouraged him to take up Paralympic sport.

Just two years after he commenced training as a 400 metre runner, Jack would gain national representative honours after being named in the Australian Paralympic team to compete at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships in New Zealand. Impressive results continued to flow for Jack but his greatest moment arrived a year later when he lined up in front of the world at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. Jack’s constant search for new opportunities and greater challenges has seen him switch his focus from the 400 metres and he will instead aim to qualify for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio in one of the most rigorous Paralympic events – the triathlon. In 2014 he placed second in his category in the ITU World Paratriathlon event, so he is well on the way to realising this ambition.

Away from the track, Jack’s good looks and engaging personality saw him feature as a finalist in the 2010 Men’s Health Competition. In the same year he was named Nivea for Men Face of the Year and in 2011 he was a Cleo Bachelor of the Year finalist.

(Further information about Jack Swift can be found at http://www.jackswift.com.au/)


Jack’s presentation last week was really well received by all those students (and staff) present and was a fantastic way to kick-off the series of guest speakers and events that will mark this year’s ConnectED program for our Year 11 and 12 students. On behalf of the students at RSC, many thanks Jack for sharing your inspirational story with us.