JAMIE Mooney and his father Ken struggle to pinpoint a specific goal for the Wagga teenager when he competes in next week's Olympic swimming trials. But for them, that's the exciting part.
Every swim the 17-year-old puts together smashes his previous personal best. It's reward for a gruelling training regime which has stepped up markedly since he decided he would throw everything at his Olympic dream.
Mooney will compete in his pet event the 100m freestyle on Tuesday in Adelaide, as well as the 200m freestyle on Sunday.
He won 100m gold at the Australian Age Swimming Championships earlier this year, clocking a personal best 51.42 seconds in the heats.
But now he gets a crack at the best in the business.
"When you see the competitor list come out and (Olympic gold medallist) Kyle Chalmers is at the top of the (100m freestyle) list, you think 'wow, he's up against the big boys now'," Ken said.
"That's exciting for Jamie to see that."
Training for Mooney is almost equivalent to a full-time job.
He swims four to six kilometres every morning before attending school at Mater Dei, then is back to the grind in the afternoon in the pool or gym.
A talented ruckman or forward, Mooney has given up football this year to give swimming a red hot crack.
"When I got back into it (swimming) after footy (late last year), it was the hardest few weeks of my life I reckon," Mooney said.
"I was always real tired and sore, pushing myself hard. I thought to myself 'I've got to choose it now, my love for racing was just too strong to give up swimming'.
"It's not every morning you want to get up, but you've got to do what you have to do. My day starts pretty early at a quarter to five, I get to pool a bit after five, school straight after then back to the gym or pool straight after school. There's no rest.
"There's a lot of sacrifices training for this and being an athlete. But the sacrifices are necessary, I know what I have to do to try and get to the Olympics.
"If it's not this year then it's definitely three years down the track. I know what I've got to do."
Mooney also does plenty of specific technical training on dry land under coach Gennadiy Labara. His preparation for trials is timed to the nth degree as he looks to extract the best from himself on the biggest stage he's graced thus far.
"It's full on, I don't think there's a morning or afternoon when I'm not training and trying to improve. This week I'm tapering off and just getting ready," he said.
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"I'll do 16 to 18 hours in the pool plus gym and dry land training. I'll do weights and technical stuff on land, just getting the strength up.
"The coach and I have worked out some little things to improve without going into the pool. All of it is improving my stroke, I trust the coach."
Ken said the realisation Jamie had the potential to compete at a high level became more apparent with each swim.
"At the end of last year we had a couple of events and his times were coming down dramatically," he said.
"Almost every swim he was getting PB's by more than a second and he realised with the level of training he was stepping up to, the exciting part was wondering how far can he go.
"It's the discussion we had with Jamie and Gennadiy, knowing the next level would take that. The only person who can make that decision is Jamie.
"He's quiet in personality, but he does have a burning desire there. He knows what it takes and he's under no illusions about the sacrifices and work it takes, but at this stage he's all in."
Mooney hasn't ruled out making a final, but knows everything would have to fall into place.
"There's a chance and a chance is all you need really , especially in a sprint. However it is more for experience and general improvement," he said.
"It was a good PB up at nationals and I'm looking to knock a couple more seconds off. It's definitely on the radar, my coach and I have been putting in the work.
"More pressure is on them (big name rivals), no one really knows my name and it will be good fun."
Mooney's first swim is the 200m freestyle heats on Sunday morning.
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