Paralympian and swimmer Braedan will be reaching for Commonwealth Games gold when the NDIS participant represents Australia in the 50m freestyle s13.
While it will be his first Commonwealth Games due to the classification being offered for the first time, Braedan has represented Australia in 2 Paralympics, the most recent in Tokyo where he had his best result in the men’s 400m freestyle s13 placing 4th.
The 24-year-old Sunshine Coast local began swimming at 8, and started as a nipper in Surf Life Saving around the same time as he was diagnosed with cone-rod dystrophy.
Braeden – who is legally blind – trains 9 times a week for up to 5 hours a day, focussing on the black lines in the pool.
“It has become automatic now that when I am in the pool I can sense the black line, the tee at the end of the black line, and know it is either a two-stroke touch or a one and a half stroke turn,” Braedan said.
“That’s what I am looking at when I am racing; I am not looking at anyone else just head down looking at the black line trying to get from point A to point B as fast as I can.”
Due to his early morning starts, Braedan accesses NDIS supports to get him to swim training.
“I have support workers I use in low-light times, like when I am going to training and can’t catch a bus that time of the morning,” he said.
“It allows me to access work, going out with friends and accessing training as well.”
The NDIS is also assisting Braedan to live independently with his partner.
“Cooking, cleaning, transport supports, getting into the community – the NDIS is giving me the support,” Braedan said.
“I have lights in the kitchen on the bench when cooking and not just relying on feel. Having the support of the NDIS allows me to not be as stubborn but to accept the help and it makes my life easier to live.”
Out of the pool, Braedan began working for ABC radio as a producer this year, after completing a Bachelor of Journalism at the University of Sunshine Coast.
“Most of my swim training is in the morning so ABC put me on the afternoons as this is what I want to do when I retire from swimming,” he said.
“It’s been great being able to swim as an elite athlete and working in my dream job.”
As one of four brothers, Braedan’s younger brother Nathan – who has the same eye condition as Braedan – is also a competitive swimmer and more recently turned his athletic skills to running sprints on the track.
Both brothers received assistance to apply for and implement their NDIS funding from Carers Queensland.
“Having two people with vision impairment in one household has been difficult; the NDIS has been great to alleviate the pressures my parents have,” Braedan said.
“Having the NDIS support me to live more independently ensures my partner and my parents aren’t carers, they can just be parents or my girlfriend.”
Watch Braedan race from 4.30am (AEST) on Sunday, July 31.