RISING swim star Jenna Strauch is ready to take on the world at the biggest international meet of her promising young career.
The 16-year-old hopes to be quick off the blocks in her events at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Dubai next week.
Strauch will contest the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke at the event and is a candidate for the breaststroke leg of Australia’s medley relay team.
She flew out on Saturday night to spend several days with the national junior team at a training and acclimatisation camp in Doha, Qatar.
The 15 girls and 13 boys in the squad travel to the United Arab Emirates later this week, where recent temperatures have been as high as 47 degrees.
Strauch’s first race – a 50m breaststroke heat – is scheduled for Monday.
A former member of the Bendigo East Swimming Club, the teenager moved to Melbourne with her family last year to further her sporting career.
She finished second in the 200m breaststroke at the Australian open titles in May and narrowly missed selection for the senior world championship team.
Strauch, who now swims for Melbourne Vicentre, said she was “excited and thrilled” to be part of the Australian team.
“The chance to swim against the best junior swimmers in the world is a challenge that I am looking forward to,” she said.
“I hope to better my personal best times and my ultimate goal is to win a medal and enjoy the experience.”
This is the third time Strauch has represented her country at an international swimming carnival.
She was a member of the Trans-Tasman junior team that competed in a series against New Zealand in 2012, then blitzed the field to win two individual breaststroke gold medals at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in January.
Her personal best time of 2:26.47 for the 200m breaststroke – clocked in the final at the open-age nationals – ranks her 25th in the world in the open age group this year and is the 10th fastest all-time swim by an Australian female.
Swimming Australia high performance director Michael Scott said junior world team members like Strauch had shown great potential and would gain valuable experience at the competition.
“A number of these swimmers have already shown what they are capable of at a national and international level, with over half this team representing Australia at the Trans Tasman, Junior Pan Pacs or Australian Youth Olympic Festival in the past two years,” he said.
“In Dubai, I will be looking for them to raise the bar again and set new season’s best times.
“This meet will be an important stepping stone for the swimmers looking to gain selection onto senior teams in the near future and the racing experience gained will benefit them as they move forward into the next stages of the journey towards Rio and beyond.”
Strauch will be cheered on from the stands by her mum and grandmother, who are heading to Dubai to watch her compete.
The championships run until August 31.