The Physical Performance Show: Jordan Harrison AUS Swim Team Member

 In Podcast (The Physical Performance Show)


To inspire people to achieve their physical best performance through candid interviews with the world’s best and most inspiring physical performers.


We delve into how top physical performers achieve success and the highs and lows of the journey in getting there.

Format: 45-60min interviews with the world’s leading and most inspiring physical performers.

Show Host

Brad Beer, Physiotherapist, Founder POGO Physio, Author Amazon Bestseller You CAN Run Pain Free!

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Episode 2: Jordan Harrison – AUS Swim Team Member

Brad Beer recently sat down with Jordan Harrison AUS Swim Team Member.  Brad has a fire-side chat with Australian Swimming Team member and former 1500m freestyle champion Jordan Harrison.

We explore the highs, and lows, and insights about achieving peak swimming performance. We also talk about bucket list travels and how Jordan scored a training camp in Phoenix Arizona with the legendary Michael Phelps.


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To listen to the full interview on I Tunes please click HERE>>

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Brad Beer: Welcome to the Physical Performance Show. The show designed to inspire the pursuit of your physical best performance. I’m your host, Brad Beer. Listen in as we delve into how the world’s top physical performers achieve their success, as well as the highs, the lows and the journey of getting there. Let’s get ready, set, let’s go.
Welcome guys. I wanted to give you a little segue into today’s interview with Jordan Harrison, Australian swim team member and up-and-coming junior star in the 1500m and 400m freestyle events. This is a show where we don’t skirt from the hard realities of seeking physical best performance. There’s going to be highs, there’s going to be lows, and certainly everything in between. And at the young age of 17, my guest today on the show, Jordan Harrison, as you’ll hear in the interview, experienced almost meteoric rise in his performance and certainly gained the attention of the Australian swimming community. Fast forward to the recent weeks, and Jordan competed in the Australian swimming championships which also doubled as the selection meet for the selection of the Australian swim team to get set for the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 August.
During the interview, we speak about Jordan’s Olympic aspirations. And as his sport, as his life by Jordan’s own high standards at the Olympic trials Jordan’s 1500m freestyle performance was probably about 30 seconds or thereabouts off where he predicted it would be and certainly where his previous performances would position him to be. As a result, Jordan finished a very credible 3rd in the 1500m freestyle; however, unfortunately, it didn’t qualify him for the Olympic Games in Rio. By finishing, he would have needed to finish top two. So, if you can let Jordan know, guys, he’s a young man, a great young guy, 20 years of age, that you’ve listened to this interview, that he’s got your support, that’ll mean a lot to him.
@Jordy_Harrison – you’ll see this in the show notes. Give him a shout-out and give him a bit of a boost. He’s taken a little bit of time out of the water now after the Olympic selection trials to re-calibrate and get some perspective around the journey onwards to Tokyo 2020. I believe we’ve only just seen some potential of what’s to come from this great young swimmer. So give him some love on social, guys, shout-out, and enjoy the episode. Let’s jump straight in.
Hey guys. Welcome to the second episode of The Physical Performance Show. Today you’re in for a real treat. I’m interviewing Jordan Harrison, Australian swim team representative, up-and-comer on the rise, a name to watch, 1500m specialist. Jordan, welcome along to the Physical Performance Show.
Jordan Harrison: Thanks a lot. It’s good to be here.
Brad Beer: Well Jordy, as I normally call you, so, mate I’m going to start straight out of the gates with a good question for you, and that’s: What’s the most scary thing you’ve ever done?
Jordan Harrison: Hmm, most scary thing. Wasn’t expecting that, first off. I guess, the first time I raced for Australia was pretty scary. Just because I was so young and everything came up so quickly, and racing international competitors who are much older I think was pretty daunting. In terms of something physical, maybe… honestly couldn’t tell you. I think that’s the first thing comes to mind, especially when you’re so inexperienced.
Brad Beer: So, the first Australian swim team representative, the first time you pulled on the green and gold?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, yeah, I think it’s such a huge honour and everything, but then when it actually comes to standing behind the block and lots of people are watching you, I guess – because I was only 16 at the time and I think it was a bit daunting. But it’s a lot easier as I’m older.
Brad Beer: More opportunities since.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: And more to come.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, hopefully.
Brad Beer: Absolutely. Jordy, just on that, let’s go down that rabbit hole. First time… and then we’re going to go into how you got started in swimming, and we’re going to cover a lot of terrain today, but just describe that feeling, standing behind the blocks. You were what, 17?
Jordan Harrison: 16.
Brad Beer: 16. That was the year 2012?
Jordan Harrison: Actually, when I started I was 17. Don’t know why I said 16.
Brad Beer: So, 2012? Was that the Short Course World Championships?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was in Turkey, actually. Yeah, it was the Short Course World Championships, just after… about 6 months after the Olympics had just been.
Brad Beer: So tell us about that. You swam what events?
Jordan Harrison: I swam the 400 and 1500, that’s the two events that I’m entered for. I ended up swimming over there and I was 17 and it was my first team, so it was my first time wearing the green and gold and senior team. I’d been on a couple of junior teams but nothing really prepared me for this.
Brad Beer: And how’d you swim? PB’s?
Jordan Harrison: I swam .1 quicker in both events than I did at the trials.
Brad Beer: So you stepped up, all right?
Jordan Harrison: It was a PB, but when you go to something like that you kind of want to go a bit faster. But it was still fast.
Brad Beer: PB’s, you didn’t slower, first time, first experience, right?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: That’s great. So, Jordy, tell the listeners, viewers of the show how you got started in swimming. You’re a Gold Coast born-and-bred boy. I know you’ve had your whole swimming career at the highly esteemed Miami Swim Club, under the expert guidance of Dennis Cotterell, a world-renowned coach. So take us through your swimming journey – how you got started, first of all.
Jordan Harrison: Well I was probably about 12 years old and with every school there’s always a school swimming carnival. One year, I think it was grade, maybe 7, I’m not sure, maybe 6, I actually ended up winning the overall age championship. I hadn’t really trained or anything. I really enjoyed it, so I started swimming lessons at Miami and everything kind of progressed from there. I stayed in the sport, loved it, got better the more I trained and just stuck with it.
Brad Beer: So what did that look like? You were how old at that stage?
Jordan Harrison: Probably about 10, now that I think of it, when I started at Miami.
Brad Beer: So you were 10. What did that involve, as a 10 year-old training?
Jordan Harrison: Not too much; it wasn’t too strenuous. It was more getting skills and learning how to do under waters and things like that. Covering all strokes, seeing what you’re good at, seeing what you like, what you like training for. Making friends. I think at the time… I look back on it… it was more going to training to see your friends and happening to swim at the same time, which is what it turned into rather than being so competitive at that age, which I think was healthy, in hindsight, for me-
Brad Beer: That’s great.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, rather than getting so competitive so quickly.
Brad Beer: Yep. But you were already having some early success.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, which was nice.
Brad Beer: Which was nice, but it was more about friendship at that stage.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I guess, it was just… I was young, and I was just enjoying it and enjoyed being active and didn’t really think twice about how each session was going. As you do when you’re a 10 year-old, you’re there because you’re there; you’re so in the moment, or your mates are there too. That’s just what it was.
Brad Beer: Were there any other sports vying for your interest at that stage?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I was heavily in surf lifesaving from when I was about six years old, and I’m still in it today.
Brad Beer: Which club?
Jordan Harrison: I’m with Northcliffe, but at the time I was with Kurrawa. I was doing that, I was playing a bit of soccer here and there, and a bit of cricket with school because I had the school sports, summer/winter sports of soccer and cricket.
Brad Beer: But your focus… You just had more of an affinity for swimming, or was there a point in your early years of development when you had to choose between those sports?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was… I loved soccer. So it was soccer and swimming.
Brad Beer: I didn’t know that about you.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah I love soccer. And it was probably when I was about 12, I decided that I’d rather swim and.. Oh, I still continued with surf, as well. So it was swimming/surf because they combined a lot better.
Brad Beer: What age did you have to give away? Because that’s not uncommon for a lot of juniors, particularly here on the Gold Coast, coming through. Talent in the water, swimming, surf on the weekend, nippers. When did you have to start to decrease your nipper activity and your surf activity to focus on the pool?
Jordan Harrison: When I started becoming more, moving toward the senior ranks, I think, because everything comes down to such a spearhead at the top level and you really have to focus on what you want to try and get out of it. That’s every session. There can’t be much compromise, especially on weekends, on a Sunday off, you kind of want to spend it doing nothing, rather than in the water again for another three hours. So I guess when I was about 17, when I made my first team, was when I sort of started not completely giving away, but just slowly leaning a lot more toward swimming, I guess.
Brad Beer: Okay, so about 17. In the early days, really interested to know, was it just your mates and the enjoyment factor and something that you’re in routine of doing? Or was there a swimmer that you can recall, in your early teens, that you really looked up to, admired, idolised at a young age, that you thought: that’s it, I want to emulate their feats in the pool? Or was that not the case?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, that was definitely the case. I think more than just one person; there was a lot of people who were succeeding in their sport, because I played a fair bit of sports when I was younger. There was obviously Grant Hackett, Ian Thorpe in the pool, and there was the Shannon Eckstein out of the pool, Roger Federer in tennis, people like that. I just saw people who were taking it to the next level and I thought that was really cool, rather than just one in actual sport, not just Grant, but it was a variety of people who were just succeeding in their own field and I think that was…
At the time, I didn’t see it as motivation, but I just saw that and was like, “That’s so cool, that they’re the best in the world at their sport. I wonder what that takes.” I found that quite a driving factor, now that I look back on it, when I was younger.
Brad Beer: Yeah, as do a lot of Australian athletes, a lot of Australian swimmers, with the success of the Australian swim team over the years, and fast-forwarding, because this is a nice little segue: you said you admired Grant Hackett in the pool as a young whipper-snapper. Were you training… Grant Hackett’s obviously a product of the same swim club, under the same coach, Dennis Cotterell. When you were a teenager, young man, were you trained alongside Grant at any of that stage, before Grant retired?
Jordan Harrison: I’d just started, in the really young squad. I was probably just about 10 or 11. And then he moved down to Melbourne in ’07. That was when I started taking it a bit more seriously. So I kind of just missed him. But I do remember seeing him around the pool when I was that age.
Brad Beer: What was that like, seeing an Olympic champion every day?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was cool because I’d seen his races in ’04 at Athens when he won the 15, and then just to see him walking around like a normal guy, it was pretty surreal at the time. Now that he’s back training, it’s even more surreal that he’s in the exact same lane as me, and we’re doing the same sort of sets. I think the fact that he’s just a normal guy kind of suggests to me or proves that anyone who’s at the top level, let it be Grant or like I said Roger Federer or… Shannon. Shannon trains at Miami as well, funny enough, so two of my idols, both in the same pool.
Brad Beer: Shannon Eckstein, surf lifesaver, who’s going to be on this show.
Jordan Harrison: Yep. They’re just normal people and it just shows that anyone can do it if you have the heart to do it, I guess.
Brad Beer: Do you recognise, though, that it’s quite an amazing story, really? A lot of kids grow up idolising swimmers that they don’t get to, years later, train in the same lane. In this case, obviously, after Grant Hackett returned to swimming here in Australia, and is vying for selection for the Olympic Games 2016 Rio Olympics. It’s not everyone’s story, right? It’s quite special.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it’s pretty surreal taking a step back and looking at the situation I’m actually in right now. I’ve got it pretty lucky, and we’ve got such a good setup down there. It’s definitely world-class.
Brad Beer: Later on in the interview I’m going to ask you about a recent trip that you had, with Grant, to the U.S., but in terms of…
Let’s talk about the moment that Australian swimming eyes really landed on you. That was 2013, if I’m correct, when you won the Australian 1500m freestyle swimming championships in your PB time. Unpack that, Jordy. How did that come about? What was the build-up like?
Jordan Harrison: It was actually quite unexpected, because earlier in the year, probably about 4 months before the trials, I dislocated my knee when I was surfing. That put me out of the water for like 2 or 3 weeks, because I didn’t actually snap any ligaments or anything, which was lucky. It almost drove me to work a lot harder in the pool, in the months leading up. I just put back-to-back weeks, really good weeks together and ended up training really well leading up to the trials. Like you said, I actually managed to come away with a win and that was really unexpected. Especially with the time that I swam, I wasn’t expecting anything like that. That just catapulted me. It put me on the Worlds team, to go to my first Long Course Worlds. It was all really unexpected at the time; everything happened so fast. Those next 4 months after the trials were almost a blur. Looking back on them, it was just soaking up everything I could with media, with new opportunities coming at me, and yeah… it was a really good time in my life. Yeah.
Brad Beer: In that stage, Jordy, you were what, 17, 18?
Jordan Harrison: I was 17.
Brad Beer: 17. So, the time that you swam was 14.51, am I correct?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: Which is a PB. This is over the 1500m free. It’s a PB of how many seconds? It was quite big, wasn’t it, the PB?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was 14.
Brad Beer: 14 seconds.
Jordan Harrison: No, no. 24.
Brad Beer: 24 seconds.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: So that was the first time you’d gone under 15 minutes, and not only… and those that are familiar with the 1500m’s history, the 15-minute mark’s really the benchmark of getting into that elite class, right?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, well, that’s kind of the barrier… I guess it’s like the 4-minute mile for running? I don’t know if that’s kind of similar because I’m not really that familiar with running, but I just knew that that was always a barrier that everyone was always trying to crack. And now it’s… is it kind of like a…
Brad Beer: I think that’s a great analogy. It’s a swimmer’s 4-minute mile, right, for the 1500?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, well it’s the 15-minutes sub-60 per hundred, which is kind of the starting goal for a world-class time, I guess.
Brad Beer: Not only did you go under it, you really smashed it. 14:51. I remember watching that race, and I remember your preparation as your physio working with you through the knee, seeing the disruption that brought about to your training. I remember when you touched the blocks, we’ve actually got the photo on the wall at the practice, at POGO. It was just a look of disbelief, I remember, as you touched you looked at the clock and you could just see this ecstatic look on your face. What was going through your mind at that stage? Explain that.
Jordan Harrison: I guess it was just disbelief at the time, to be honest, because I could see that I was in front. When I saw the time, I saw the 14 and honestly I thought that I had a hundred to go. Because that was the first thing that I saw and I thought there was no way that I was going to go in under 15 minutes. So I thought that I had a hundred to go, and then I saw the 51, and I was like, oh, it must be right!
Brad Beer: So you thought you had cut it a hundred short?
Jordan Harrison: The crowd was going pretty nuts and I was like, Oh, maybe that’s it. That was all within half a second, that thought space. And then it just hit me and I was over the moon.
Brad Beer: I think you jumped out of the pool, and that was really a bit of a media swarm then. I remember reading the headlines and seeing interviews and different things where the media was really hailing your arrival as Australia’s next 1500m champion. I mean, the history in Australia has been very rich: Glen Housman, Kieren Perkins, Daniel Kowalski, Grant Hackett. It was like, “The New Kid on the Block”. What was that like, being thrust into the spotlight? The weight of the Australian swim community’s expectations… how did you manage that, and what was that like?
Jordan Harrison: It was pretty overwhelming, looking back on it. But at the time, I knew that it would come after the race, just because like you said, it’s such a rich history in the sport and the media loves to grab a story that the public can relate to and it’ll almost sell because Australia dominated for so long and then there was such a huge void after Grant sort of retired in the 1500. I think when I came and did a pretty good swim, they thought that I was going to be able to continue the success that he did. Because he won, obviously, two gold medals in the event. You know, it was just a story that would work really well for the public and so I knew there was going to be pretty big media surrounding me after that swim. It wasn’t too bad. I think it’s just part of the sport. If you can, you’ve just got to learn to deal with it. It’s just part of it, I guess.
Brad Beer: With that time, did you know you had that in you? Truth be told, did you know you had a 14:51 in you?
Jordan Harrison: I don’t know, maybe. Maybe. I thought about 15 minutes would be good, because to make the team you actually have to… first you have to get top two in the race, and then you have to make a qualifying time, like a cut.
Brad Beer: This is the team for Worlds, for the World Long Course Championships, which are in Barcelona?
Jordan Harrison: Yes.
Brad Beer: So to make the team, you had to finish in the top two, plus do a cut-off time which was what?
Jordan Harrison: It was 14:58.
Brad Beer: 14:58.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, so that was what I was sort of aiming for. I thought anywhere around there would be awesome because my PB was a long way off that before the race.
Brad Beer: So to do 14:51 was just…
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I honestly couldn’t believe it.
Brad Beer: I remember seeing your Coach Dennis Cotterell’s interview, poolside, when they went up and stuck the mic in Dennis’ face. His expression was a rare one, it was a priceless one. You could tell that he was excited. What did that mean to you, obviously working closely with Dennis from… How many years before that swim had you started under Dennis’ direct sup-
Jordan Harrison: Probably about three.
Brad Beer: So three years.
Jordan Harrison: Three or four.
Brad Beer: Ten sessions a week.
Jordan Harrison: Yep.
Brad Beer: So lots of contact time. What was that moment like, knowing that Dennis had coached Grant Hackett through his Olympic Games successes. What was that like? Was that a feeling… describe that. How’s that dynamic work with your coach?
Jordan Harrison: It was awesome. He’s such an awesome coach and he’s – in my opinion – the best distance coach in the world. He’s had so much success and he knows what it takes for people to break world records in the 1500. So I think it’s fair to say that he’s not easily pleased, after having Grant for so long. For him to be as pleased as he was with my race, it really meant a lot to me because… I won’t say it’s something you see rarely, because he’s always proud of what we’re doing, but yeah, it did mean a lot because it’s always good to hear something so positive from someone so high in the sport as him. Even if he wasn’t my coach, it would still mean the same amount because he’s just done so much.
Brad Beer: What was his first comment to you? Can you remember that?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I went over to him straight up, like as soon as I got out of the pool, because he was right there. I think he just said something like, “Great effort.” He just had a huge smile on his face. Sometimes, he’s a man of few words. I think that was all he needed to say, really. I kind of knew that it had been a pretty good swim, yeah.
Brad Beer: You hit the spot. I think of a report I read after that swim, Jordy, that said they went through the archives and for your age, I think at that point at 17 you were one second faster than Australia’s great Kieren Perkins, over the distance, and one second slower than Grant Hackett at the same age for the 1500. Is that right? Did I read that…
Jordan Harrison: It was the other way around. Like you said, but the other way around, Kieren and Grant swapped.
Brad Beer: One second faster than Grant, one second slower than Kieren. How did that feel, knowing that at the same age, you were in pretty esteemed company?
Jordan Harrison: It was kind of surreal, because Grant and Kieren were…their times that had been set and they’re so appreciated in Australian history and especially by me as well. To just do it, it was kind of surreal. I was like, oh, that was it, I was in that bracket for my age. They’ve obviously done a lot more after that. Yeah, it was pretty surreal at the time, the whole thing was surreal. Looking back at the whole swim I couldn’t tell you one thing that I was really thinking about the whole race. It was just…
Brad Beer: Pain.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, in a good way.
Brad Beer: You’re in the pain cave.
Jordy, let’s go through… it was a bit of a bumpy road, that preparation for that swim. You had your knee injury from the surf, which often the way it seems to be for swimmers and many athletes, those injuries often come from other sports, right?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, well, swimming’s pretty much any other sport.
Brad Beer: Yeah, it’s funny isn’t it?
You have since that breakthrough performance had a multitude of highs and lows, would be a good way to put it, right? Valleys and troughs. Let’s talk about Jordy between then, 2013, and now, we’re on the eve of 2016. We’re sitting here in December 2015, on the eve of an Olympic year, which we’ll be digging into in a little while. What’s been the one real testing moment in your swimming career to-date, where maybe you thought, “Gosh, can I come back from this?”
Jordan Harrison: I think it was after Barcelona 2013. I’d just had my first Long Course Worlds, then after we went on a holiday and I actually broke my scaphoid, which is a bone in your wrist.
Brad Beer: Tell me about that. How did that happen? I know the story, but for the viewers and listeners.
Jordan Harrison: I was riding a bike and…
Brad Beer: Motorbike?
Jordan Harrison: No, no, no, push bike, like a rental bike.
Brad Beer: I thought it was a scooter, that’s a bit more of an exciting story…but it was a push bike.
Jordan Harrison: It’s really not that exciting; it’s a pretty boring story. I was riding a push bike and I was in Rome with a few friends. As anyone who’s been to Rome knows, the roads can be quite bumpy with all the rocks that stick out. It’s not really like bitumen like in Australia in some areas. I was just not careful enough and I was going off a gutter. I was going too slow and the wheel went like that and I went over the handlebars. I put my hand out and just heard a little click, and just like that, broke my scaphoid.
Brad Beer: Did you know you’d fractured something at that stage? You knew it was serious.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, and it was unfortunate because it was the day that we were supposed to return the hire bikes and fly home. So I didn’t have time to go see a doctor or anything. I just did it. Literally ten minutes later the bikes were back at the store and then we had to go straight to the airport. Then I had a 30-hour transit home, and my wrist was like triple the size.
Brad Beer: A big, fat wrist.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: And you nursed that all the way back?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I couldn’t even tie my own shoelaces up, or pick up my luggage, or do the declaration thing you have to do when you get back into Australia. I was with Cam McEvoy, that’s who I travelled with, and he had to do everything for me. He was kind of like my assistant for basic sort of things that you have to do on a plane.
Brad Beer: This is Cam McEvoy, another Australian great Gold Coast product, actually.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: So, you got back to Australia. That was after your first long course Australian swimming team, right, where you swam – was it the 400 and the 1500, or the 1500?
Jordan Harrison: The 4, 8 and 15.
Brad Beer: 4, 8 and 15. Just quickly, on that meet, that was your second time in the green and gold for Australia. First time on the long course, 50m pool. How did you perform at that, before you then fell off the bike and broke your wrist?
Jordan Harrison: I performed really well. I made three from three finals, which I was really happy with. And in the finals I got a fifth and two sixths.
Brad Beer: That’s a world standard. And in the 1500, where did you place in that one?
Jordan Harrison: Sixth.
Brad Beer: Sixth. And what time did you swim for that one?
Jordan Harrison: In the final I went 15:00.
Brad Beer: So, bang, we’re on, 15 flat. And was that disappointing at all for you after having swum 14:51 at trials?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was. But then looking back on it, swimming’s kind of… Something in the moment doesn’t seem as good or as bad as it is, and then when you look back on it, hindsight’s really important in swimming. Looking back on it, I had six races, a total of 5.4K of racing, which is pretty tough for a 7-day meet. In the heat, I swam under 15 minutes to get myself in the final. That was kind of the rule, or not the rule – the direction from Dennis was swim the heat as though it’s a final because you can’t take any chances, being so young and at a World. So I just put everything on the line…
Brad Beer: So, 18?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I was 18. Unfortunately I was just a bit too flat in the final, and 15 was still good enough to get me sixth.
Brad Beer: That’s outstanding. Back on the low-light here… You got back to Australia, had a fat wrist. Cam had been your sidekick doing your shoelaces up, filling in your forms, carrying your bags. Tell us what happened next, when you got home.
Jordan Harrison: Well, I got home, went straight to the hospital. I tried to convince myself on the plane that it was all good and I’d just done something like sprained it. And then I got in the car with Dad and he was like, “We’re going straight to the hospital. It looks terrible.”
Found out I’d fractured my scaphoid, and then the next six weeks I was in a cast. I’d opted not to get surgery because I thought that it would just heal normally. The second kicker came in when I went to get the cast off six weeks later. They told me it hadn’t healed properly, and that I would actually need to get surgery. So that added another six weeks on top of the total time in a cast.
Brad Beer: And I remember that moment.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, that was pretty rough. All up, it ended up being 14 weeks in a cast, which in swimming that’s a huge time. That’s almost 12 weeks too long, anyone should ever have out of a pool at any one time. So I think back to your original question: that was probably the lowest point, when I found out that I had to have another six weeks and how much time I’d miss out of the pool. Would I be able to get back to where I was? Because I’d had such a good six months before it and then it was kind of up here to as low as you could go, I guess, in terms of swimming.
Brad Beer: Felt like all your momentum had just stopped?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it pretty much literally had. I couldn’t swim for nearly three months. Over three months, sorry. So yeah, that was pretty rough.
Brad Beer: To bring some perspective around this story and this low moment in your career, it was important to you to be swimming because you had the trials coming up for the 2014 Commonwealth Games Glasgow, and therefore you wanted to be able to see working off the back of your successful Worlds campaign, back into some hard training and getting ready for it. That was the situation, wasn’t it?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah. Because I just had so much momentum so quickly, and then as everything was sort of going on the right direction it all just came to a halt and it kind of just put in perspective of what I did have and what it took to get there. Going back to square one, it was really tough, especially when the trials were only five months, six months out when I found out that I had another six weeks in the cast. Especially for the 15, I find that it’s not really time that you can give away.
Brad Beer: Yeah, because you’ve built in such a base.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it’s a really aerobic base to burn. You need a lot of fitness behind you. You can’t just fluke the 15. You can’t just put one on the day; it takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work.
Brad Beer: So what was that feeling like when the cast came off your wrist, the scaphoid fracture, they realised it hadn’t united the bone and that you were going to need surgery, a bone graft? What was going through your head when the doctors advised you that, Jordan, the only way to fix this is with surgery?
Jordan Harrison: I don’t know how to describe it, really. It was like everything sort of went blurry in my vision. It was like the worst news I could have heard at the time, because all I wanted to do… I’d been sitting around for six weeks on the couch. For me, that’s something I never do. For them to say, “you’ve got another eight weeks,” I was just so devastated. That was the complete opposite of what I wanted to hear. It totally was unexpected and devastating, I guess, was the only two words that I could use to describe it.
Brad Beer: Who was the first person you spoke to when you got the news?
Jordan Harrison: Well, Dad was in the room with me, so he was there. And then obviously Mum and my sister.
Brad Beer: What did your Mum say?
Jordan Harrison: I can’t really remember word for word, but I think she was just… what mums do: “You can do it, you can get back to where you were,” and so optimistic. It was pretty refreshing at the time, I think, to hear someone… because Dad was… I think for me Dad’s always been really realistic, whereas Mum’s been optimistic, so I was hanging around Mum a bit more often for the next six weeks because I needed all the optimism I could have.
Brad Beer: Uncannily, I remember, I was at the pool doing swim screens at the swim club room when you walked in from getting the news. I was actually talking to Dennis about the results of the screens and you walked in. I could see the look on your face and I thought, “This is not good news.” I left the room to give you guys some space. What was that conversation like with Dennis, who I assume, like myself and everyone else who was in your team expected you to get off the cast and get moving again.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I forgot about that. I remember I walked in and because I told him that morning that that was the day I was supposed to get my cast off, “I’ll see you tonight.” I walked in and he looked straight at my cast and he saw that I still had the cast on. I just looked at him and said, “Not good.” He goes, “What do you mean?” I explained to him what happened. He’s really sympathetic when it comes to things like that. He really did feel for me. We had a long chat about how we could manage things and do different things to stay fit while I had my cast on. But yeah, he was really good. He was really consoling.
Brad Beer: Was there a moment where you thought, “This is the end”? Or, not at all?
Jordan Harrison: Maybe for like a day. I think the day after I found out, I was so devastated. But after talking to Dennis, talking to my family and friends, I put it in perspective and thought of ways that I could get around it. Looking back on it, it kind of lit the fire a bit more once I’d got the cast off because there were people in my lanes who were just smashing me as soon as I got back. I was so far behind. But in my mind I turned it around and used it as motivation, I guess.
Brad Beer: Coming from that low, you then got back into training with the upcoming trials for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014. How many weeks, Jordy, did that leave you after having lost 12, 14 weeks of time in the water? How many weeks did that leave you, approximately, until the Common Games trials?
Jordan Harrison: I can’t remember exactly. It would have been about 20 to 24.
Brad Beer: But a big deal, when we’re talking about an aerobic event. I mean, the typical training week for you… Just outline that. A typical training week in preparation. You’re in preparation at the moment for the Rio Olympic Games Australian swim team trials. So what’s it look like?
Jordan Harrison: Well, I do nine to ten sessions a week in the pool. They’re two-hour sessions. Then out of the pool, I do three weight sessions a week.
Brad Beer: And total volume of swimming for the week, kilometres?
Jordan Harrison: Anywhere between 60 and 70k.
Brad Beer: 60, 70k. So you were back in the water, doing your 60, 70k’s, 20-24 weeks until the trials for the Comm Games. What happened at trials, and did you feel like you managed to get back up to the fitness that you wanted before the Commonwealth Games trials, or were you still a bit underdone?
Jordan Harrison: I was definitely underdone, I think, because I missed a lot of the preseason, which is usually aerobics, sort of getting the base. Even after I came back, I got my cast off, I still had another month or so of not even being able to move it five or ten degrees either way from neutral.
Brad Beer: I remember.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, that was another hiccup that took a bit of getting over, and then just training as hard as I could until the trials.
Brad Beer: So, trials. You had to go at trials. What did you have to do, actually, to make the team for the Comm Games?
Jordan Harrison: Comm Games is a bit different to Worlds. They take top three in each event, provided that you go under a cut time.
Brad Beer: Which was what? What was the cut-off?
Jordan Harrison: It was 15:15.
Brad Beer: Were you confident of pulling that off?
Jordan Harrison: It was pretty similar to the year before, to be honest. I was kind of in the dark because I hadn’t swum a 1500 since Worlds. It had been nearly nine months since I’d raced one, and I was diving in and praying, almost, that what I’d done for the lead-up could back up in the race. When it came down to it, fortunately I was able to swim a 15:03, which placed me second at the trials. I ended up getting selection on the team, which was great.
Brad Beer: So, off to Glasgow, and that was for the 15. Did you swim the 400 as well, at Comm Games, 400m freestyle?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, because they take three. In the 400 I got third. I was under the 400 free qualifying time. I was able to go for the 4 as well.
Brad Beer: So the 4 and the 15. Off to Glasgow. This is your first (outside of the world championships) short course, long course swimming. First Olympic/Commonwealth Games experience. What was that like? Did you feel like a bit of a dream come true?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was quite overwhelming to be honest, because it was my first multi-sport event. You know, we’re in a village and it’s the exact same as an Olympics, only down-scaled. But the whole life of a village, dining in a food hall with thousands of other competitors who are all there for the same reason as you are. It’s pretty cool. It puts you in your place, almost, because swimming’s such an individual sport and then you get to the Comm Games and realise that there’s a lot more people outside of the pool who are training just as hard and doing hours and hours of training. Yeah, it was a really awesome experience.
Brad Beer: Who was the one person that you ran into that left you like, “My gosh, can’t believe I just had a chat with that athlete.”
Jordan Harrison: I didn’t actually really meet anyone really cool. I did see…
Brad Beer: Sorry to all those you met, right?
Jordan Harrison: Oh, no no no, I didn’t mean it like that. I saw… Usain Bolt is for Jamaica, so he’s part of the Commonwealth. He got in the day before racing. He flew from Jamaica like the day before, which is pretty unheard of. Normally people get there, adjust to the time zone and everything. And he just comes in the day before. I saw him. I didn’t talk to him because he had a huge entourage with him. But I did get to see him in real life, which I thought was really cool.
Brad Beer: He ran the relay, didn’t he, from memory?
Jordan Harrison: He ran what?
Brad Beer: The relay, for Jamaica.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, and they won.
Brad Beer: Jordy, tell us about the pool, then. Comm Games. I was actually in Portugal with my wife and daughter, visiting her grandmother and father over there. The time zone was all out of whack, Europe… it was hard to get reception. I was in Grandmother’s place and her TV’s cake. I think I was on the iPad, from memory, trying to get coverage of your swimming race and watching on the iPad in a little town called Gandara in Central Portugal. Tell us what happened in the race. The 1500m, you’re on the box, green and gold, gun goes off…take us through the race.
Jordan Harrison: I was in the race, in the final, with Olympic silver medallist Ryan Cochrane from Canada. He was in the race. Matt Gordon, who had won our trials a couple of months before, who had just posted a really world-class time, he was in the race. There was a few other guys that were…because there were really close heat swims, so the final was up for grabs, almost. I dove in and swam the best race I could. I managed to get fourth in that race. I can’t… I guess when I swim I don’t really recall what I was thinking. It’s kind of all just a blur. You try not to over-think it.
Brad Beer: Small pain.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I couldn’t really tell you a phrase or anything, or what I was feeling at this point. I finished and that was it. It doesn’t really make for good storytelling, but I finished the race and that was it, and see the time.
Brad Beer: But something happened and you were in the water, so it was probably harder for those that follow your career and are in your corner watching the race, out of the pool. My description of it is, you looked like you had the bronze medal sewn up with 50 to go. You turned and, from memory, Jordy, you had maybe a body length and a half – that’s from my memory – on the guy that was in fourth, and then in that last 50 meters you would think that guy that came from fourth to actually just pip you on the post was swimming the 50 meter free. He just brought it home. I held my breath, and probably all of Australia, and what happened? You got touched right on the block, didn’t you, by a fingernail? What was the gap between fourth and you getting the bronze?
Jordan Harrison: .09.
Brad Beer: .09. Not even .1. So you should have kept the longer nails.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah. The guy’s name is actually Daniel Jervis, and he’s from Wales. So, I wouldn’t call it a home games for him, but he was with the U.K. crowd and the way the pool is set up, the roof is really low and it was a really long venue. There were heaps of people packed into a really tight space and the crowd was just going ballistic, for lack of a better word.
Brad Beer: Did you know that they were cheering for him?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I could see him coming and I was like, “Oh, not now. Come on. The whole race, but not now.” He ended up coming home in a 26.4, which for people who don’t swim, is almost unheard of, because the 200m swimmers come home in 27.0. To come home in 26.4 at the end of a 15 is insane. So I’m going to say, full credit to him because he swam me down big time.
Brad Beer: It was unbelievable. What was the emotion after that? I mean, you gave it your all, and no matter what you came everyone’s so proud of your efforts. But was there any disappointment in being so close from the podium, or… Talk us through what that was like.
Jordan Harrison: It was pretty mixed emotions. I was devastated with the fourth, as anyone who competes would be, no matter what sport you do. Everyone will tell you fourth’s the worst spot. But then, like I’ve said before, hindsight, I’ve thought about the year that I’d had and how mixed the highs and lows were. Even just to be there, and the fact that I’d achieved what I had with the adversity that I’d had, kind of made it that I almost didn’t care about the fourth, after the fact. At the time I was so gutted but looking back on it, it didn’t really matter. It was just so good to be there. Wearing the green and gold was kind of a good enough achievement for me, considering what I’d faced.
Brad Beer: Absolutely. And this is all as a 19 year-old, I might add. Outstanding! So, Jordy, grab some Powerade. Let’s talk about the day-to-day of Jordan Harrison. What’s your morning routine like?
Jordan Harrison: Four to five mornings a week I swim in the morning, get up at five and swim at five thirty. That’s for two hours. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I’ll go straight from the pool to the gym. That’s my morning. Pretty boring morning. Wednesdays I sleep in; apart from gym, I get up a bit later.
Brad Beer: Do you eat before you go to the pool?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I’ll just have a muesli bar and a coffee.
Brad Beer: What sort of muesli bars do you eat? What’s your favourite?
Jordan Harrison: Uncle Tobys, the ones with the yogurt on top, strawberry flavoured.
Brad Beer: Strawberry flavoured yoghurt, Uncle Toby’s.
Jordan Harrison: I’ve tried a lot of muesli bars in my time.
Brad Beer: And that’s your favourite.
Jordan Harrison: Yep, by far.
Brad Beer: So that’s what fuels you.
Jordan Harrison: Oh, it just tastes good.
Brad Beer: You have that on the way to the pool?
Jordan Harrison: No, I usually sit down for a bit after I’ve woken up and let my body wake up for maybe ten minutes or so, and then head to the pool. I don’t really like to get up and go straight to the pool. I like to realise what I’m doing and let the coffee kick in a bit before I get moving.
Brad Beer: You have a coffee, you have a muesli bar, get to the pool. In the water by five thirty and saddle up for a two-hour swim. That’s your morning routine. What do you do after your training session in the morning? Any nutrition…
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I eat oats every morning. I’ll go home, have a quick bowl of oats. Oh, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, sorry, I’ll just go straight to the gym from the pool, and just have a protein shake in between, and then eat breakfast when I get home from the gym. It’s more of a late brekkie…
Brad Beer: What sort of protein shakes, Jordy?
Jordan Harrison: Do you mean like the brand?
Brad Beer: Yeah.
Jordan Harrison: Oh, well, the brands evolve. It’s just got protein and carbs in it. Chocolate.
Brad Beer: Chocolate.
Jordan Harrison: Chocolate flavoured.
Brad Beer: So, you get protein in, couple of mornings you hit the gym. What’s your evening routine like, then? Because you’ll be in the pool from four to six-ish, every afternoon?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, weekday afternoons I’ll be in the pool every afternoon from four ’til six. Get to the pool about three thirty, stretch and activate, and then get in the water.
Brad Beer: Tell us about your support team. Who’s in your world? Who keeps you going? What’s it look like?
Jordan Harrison: Well, I’ve got a fair few people. There’s a lot of people behind the scenes. Obviously, Dennis is probably the forefront. I’m with him four, five hours a day, and then there’s the family. There’s POGO Physio. I see you.
Brad Beer: See me!
Jordan Harrison: Brad Beer. I see Brad Beer at least once a week.
Brad Beer: I’ve got to say, Jordy, on that, you are one of the athletes that is so consistent. It’s obviously an awareness you’ve got of how important it is to get your body going. So full credit to you, because for a guy of 20, that’s great to have that foresight to realise how important it is.
Yep, so you’ve got your physio. Got your coach. Who else?
Jordan Harrison: I train… I do gym at the AIS down at Miami there, the canoeing facility. They have a gym there. So there’s Glen Workman and Deb Savage. They write my programs and help me with form, guide me with reps and all that sort of stuff, so they’re behind all my gym programs. That’s separate from the pool. Dennis doesn’t control the gym program; it’s the people down there.
Brad Beer: So, you’ve got your gym as well. And there’s family – you’ve got your sister…?
Jordan Harrison: Yep, younger sister who’s 17, just finished grade 12.
Brad Beer: She does or doesn’t swim?
Jordan Harrison: No, she doesn’t swim.
Brad Beer: So you’re the fish of the family. You’ve got your mum and dad, your girlfriend.
Jordan Harrison: Yep, I have a girlfriend who’s really supportive. Like I said, mum and dad, they’re fully supportive of everything I do and always backing me 100%. It’s a really good support network. It definitely makes things a lot easier. Especially in adverse times, it kind of takes you away from the pool to have people who aren’t one-on-one, I mean 100% involved in the pool. So, rather than having just your coach and gym people, you’ve got to have people that are outside of the sport who can give you sort of an outsider view on what’s happening in your life. They just keep things balanced, I think.
Brad Beer: That’s great. Jordy, tell us about the recent trip that you had to the U.S., which for a young swimmer is quite outstanding from getting to go over and train with Michael Phelps, the legendary Michael Phelps in the U.S., at his home pool in Phoenix, Arizona. Tell us about how that came about, and a bit about the trip.
Jordan Harrison: I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go over to America, because Grant Hackett actually, as everyone knows or may know, he’s back at the pool training. He had to go over to America for an obligation that he had to meet. He was talking with Michael, because they’re good friends, and he said, “Come and train with us before it.” Grant obviously was going to do that, and he opened the invite to me and said, “Do you want to come?” I took the opportunity with both hands and said, “For sure.” I went over there for a week before their winter nationals, raced there as well, and then came home.
Brad Beer: How long were you over there for, for how many weeks?
Jordan Harrison: 15 days. Just over two, yeah.
Brad Beer: So your time was spent competing at the winter nationals for the U.S.?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: How did you swim there, just incidentally?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I swam well. We were in full, heavy training so it was kind of… times weren’t really going to be comparable to PB’s. It was more just seeing where you’re at for the workload that you’re in, rather than trying to get the best time because obviously it’s not how fast you’re swimming right now, it’s in April for our trials, which is when you want to be swimming quite fast.
Brad Beer: It was more hard training, basically.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, it was just getting racing experience, because they sent a lot of their best swimmers there, for America, so I was getting international racing experience, which was priceless.
Brad Beer: You’re stacking up these international experiences, aren’t you?
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: What was it like, training with the great Michael Phelps? What did you learn?
Jordan Harrison: I learned heaps. He’s such a professional. Everything he does, without being too uptight, he’s incredible. His work ethic is insane. It kind of puts it in perspective, what it takes, because everything you could ever achieve, he pretty much has. I couldn’t really name individual things; it was kind of just the way he carries himself, the way he approaches workouts. Doesn’t miss a session, doesn’t fall behind, doesn’t come late. Always in until the end and putting in 100%. I think it resonates that that’s what it takes if you want to do such great things like he has. But yeah, it was cool, like I said earlier with Grant and Shannon Eckstein, meeting him and seeing how normal he is, almost. You can just have a conversation with him like he’s another guy off the street. He’s not robotic, or he’s not superhuman. He’s just a normal guy who does normal things. I think that’s really cool, to actually meet them, because it just kind of puts it in perspective: it’s not impossible to do the things that they’ve done. Everyday people can do it. You just have to have the right mindset.
Brad Beer: What did the week look like, training-wise, that you were there in Phoenix, Arizona?
Jordan Harrison: It was quite similar to here, except they have two afternoons off a week. I found that quite nice because you can just do the morning session and know that it’s all over for the day, and kind of relax a bit rather than knowing you have to train each afternoon. But apart from that, the week’s kilometres were very similar, the gym’s very similar, because they’re both… Miami’s program and Bob Bowman’s (Michael’s coach) program are very world-class, so they’re quite similar.
Brad Beer: So you found some overlap with Dennis Cotterell’s strategies and Bob Bowman’s strategies. What was one thing, Jordy, that Michael did that made you laugh?
Jordan Harrison: Made me laugh. One thing he did that made me laugh. Oh, brings his dog pretty much everywhere, because he has a fiancee and they have a pet French bulldog who’s about this big, and they bring it pretty much everywhere.
Brad Beer: What’s the dog’s name?
Jordan Harrison: Juno.
Brad Beer: Juno.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah. And like, to dinner, they’ll just bring it and tie it around the table, like at a nice restaurant just because you can. They just love him. They bring him everywhere. I thought that was pretty funny.
Brad Beer: So wherever Michael goes, Juno goes.
Jordan Harrison: Pretty much. I’d say 90% of the time.
Brad Beer: And his fiancee.
Jordan Harrison: Yep.
Brad Beer: Great stuff. In winding up, Jordy, one question, more about that experience. I saw you had a social media post that you were at a basketball game – was it basketball, I think? With Michael and Grant and a few others? What game was that?
Jordan Harrison: I’m not a basketball fan, so I can tell you one of the teams. It was Golden State vs… I don’t know, someone. Maybe Denver, I think. That was literally the first game I’d ever watched. We had courtside tickets, so I felt like I was taking advantage of them, like someone else could’ve watched it who was pretty into basketball. But it was awesome to watch, you know. We ended up meeting Steph Curry, who was the MVP of last year. Like I said, he’s just a normal guy and he’s the best in the field, almost. But yeah, it was such a cool experience. I just soaked it all up and had such a good time.
Brad Beer: Cool to be there with Michael and experience that world. What’s on the bucket list, Jordy? The Jordan Harrison bucket list. What are your top three things?
Jordan Harrison: Do you mean in general, or in sporting?
Brad Beer: Let’s do two separate buckets. Let’s do the sporting bucket first.
Jordan Harrison: Because I actually have a real bucket list. I made one. It’s saved on my computer, but it’s about a thousand – well, not a thousand – maybe a hundred things long.
Brad Beer: Hundred? When did you write that?
Jordan Harrison: I think grade 12. Slowly. I just made it over like, maybe six months.
Brad Beer: You wrote out a hundred things you’d like to do.
Jordan Harrison: It wouldn’t be a hundred. It’d be give or take twenty.
Brad Beer: Okay, so twenty. Started at a thousand, went to a hundred, went to twenty.
Jordan Harrison: No, give or take twenty from a hundred. So, between 80 and 120.
Brad Beer: So, this was written about your sporting goals, or life goals?
Jordan Harrison: Just general things. The one sporting thing was go to an Olympics. That was probably the only sporting one.
Brad Beer: That was the only sporting one of 80…
Jordan Harrison: It was more just visiting cool places. I’d just found cool places on social media and looked it up, and seen if it really was cool. I’d just see cool photos and I was like, “that looks awesome,” so I’d go look that up. If it was really cool I’d write it down. Each continent has its own page. They’re A4 pages, and each continent has its own page, so it’ll say, “Oceania” and then it will say, “Cool Things In Australia”. Road trip around Australia, that’s one of them. And then there’ll be like, North America, South America, and there’ll be all different places that I want to go and things I want to do.
Brad Beer: You’ve already listed out things you want to do in those locations. Wow. So, travels a real interest.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah. Travel’s a huge interest for me.
Brad Beer: What’s one thing on that list that people wouldn’t expect from Jordan Harrison?
Jordan Harrison: Treat a snake bite.
Brad Beer: Treat a snake bite.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah.
Brad Beer: What?
Jordan Harrison: That’s on it. There’s a section called “Miscellaneous”, and it’s just random things like that. I don’t know, I just think…
Brad Beer: Your own snake bite?
Jordan Harrison: Because I love “Man vs Wild”
Brad Beer: Bear Grylls.
Jordan Harrison: Not that I’d wish something unfortunate to happen to someone, but I just think one day, it’d be cool to have that unexpected situation thrown at you and come up with a solution.
Brad Beer: How do you treat a snake bite?
Jordan Harrison: I don’t know. I’ll have to look it up. But I just saw it, and I was like… I think he might have got bitten in some special episode, and then he treated it himself, on himself. I thought that was cool.
Brad Beer: Cool. Great. So, there you go. And Jordan Harrison, if you get bitten by a snake you don’t want you around at the moment.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, maybe in the future.
Brad Beer: Maybe in the future, after this interview.
Jordan Harrison: I’ll have to go home and learn.
Brad Beer: This in closing now, Jordy: What’s the one bit of advice, if you could put into one sentence, you’d give to aspiring athletes who are looking to get the best out of their physical performance. That’s what this show’s all about. If you could put it in one sentence, what would it be to get the best out of their physical performance?
Jordan Harrison: When things are going well, take a step back to appreciate and notice what you’re doing, that things are going well, as in, don’t take it for granted and just assume that things will keep going well, be it sleeping, nutrition, physio. I think, notice when you’re going well so that if things start to go bad you can rectify and look back on what you were doing when you were going well and change what you’re doing to perform better.
Brad Beer: Analyse and reflect.
Jordan Harrison: Yeah, I think because when I was young I was sort of naïve, and success came so quickly, throwing me into the international scene and I just sort of took it all for granted. I was just training hard, getting physio, doing all the things right. I didn’t really stop and say, “Why am I going so well?” I think it’s easy to just get caught up in the success rather than how you got there. I think that’s part of being so young. Because I was only 17, I didn’t really stop and think. I just sort of took everything as it came and then once everything went downhill after the Worlds, it took a lot of regrouping and thinking of how to get back to where I was. Yeah, I think just not taking things for granted when things are going well. You have to really appreciate them, which I’ve only just learnt the hard way.
Brad Beer: Jordan, wise words from broad young shoulders. We certainly wish you all the best for the 2016 Olympic Games Rio campaign, and all the best for the future. Thanks for your time today.
Jordan Harrison: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
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