PAIN FREE: Jemma Schlicht has come leaps and bounds since joining USC Spartans.
PAIN FREE: Jemma Schlicht has come leaps and bounds since joining USC Spartans. Warren Lynam

From constant pain to world title shot

SWIMMING: A move to the Sunshine Coast is paying dividends in more ways than one for up-and-comer Jemma Schlicht.

Once a teen sensation, a crippling back injury put her aspirations on the backburner for almost three years before she decided to move to the Sunshine Coast from Melbourne.

Since joining the University of the Sunshine Coast Spartans team and Olympic coach Chris Mooney, she has found a new lease on life and training.

Schlicht, 18, underwent a back operation after she tore the ligament off her facet joint as a 15-year-old. She then dislocated her knee in a competitive swim about six weeks before moving north.

But she says the 1700km journey was worth it, after she last month qualified for December's World Short Course Championships in Canada.

Melbourne swimmer Jemma Schlicht has moved to the Sunshine Coast.
Melbourne swimmer Jemma Schlicht has moved to the Sunshine Coast. Warren Lynam

"Since injuring my back it was almost 24/7 constant pain. I still can't stand up or sit down for really long periods of time,” she said, before giving credit to USC Spartans strength and conditioning coach Mark McKean.

"Since moving up here I've hardly had any problems with it at all. I used to be at physio twice a week and I've barely had to see one since.”

Schlicht said Mooney's training was critical to her sudden spike in form.

She had originally come to Queensland for a holiday before trialling with the squad stacked with Olympians like Jake Packard, Leah Neale and Taylor McKeown.

It was enough to entice her back, permanently.

"I loved it and loved everything (Mooney) was doing so I decided to make the move,” she said.

"His motivation is not through negativity, it's motivation through what you're doing right. And through that and Mark's gym program we saw such a big improvement.”

Schlicht swam a personal best in the 200m freestyle final at the Australian Short Course Championships (1min 57sec) to tie for third with Ariarne Titmus.

Melbourne swimmer Jemma Schlicht has moved to the Sunshine Coast.
Melbourne swimmer Jemma Schlicht has moved to the Sunshine Coast. Warren Lynam

It was enough to get her into the 20-man team which will fly out for Canada on December 1.

"It wasn't really a goal to make the team,” she said.

"I wasn't expecting to see results this quickly and ... before this meet I hadn't done personal bests in three years.

"I wasn't expecting a big drop in times. I think I was just more relieved and I was just really happy that the move was worth it.”


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