Rising Star juggles biomedical studies and training for Aussie swimming championships

Published 21 March 2016

Swimmer Moesha Johnson rises most days at 4.30am to fit in a two-hour training session before heading to Southern Cross University's Gold Coast campus for her biomedical science studies.

The 18-year-old Tweed Heads local is focused on the upcoming Australian Swimming Championships, which will see some of our best swimmers - like James Magnussen, Cate and Bronte Campbell, Mitch Larkin, Emily Seebohm and Grant Hackett - line up behind the blocks to race for the chance to fulfil their dreams with selection into the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams for Rio in August.

"This is my first Olympic selection trials. It would be amazing if I make the Aussie team but it'll be tough. Even if I do get second in the women's 800m freestyle, I have to make the qualifying time. I don't think I'm quite up to that yet but you never know. With all the adrenalin running high, you can never discount the possibility it could happen," Moesha said.

"When you get a chance to swim amongst people who take the sport as seriously as you do and love it like you do, it's really inspiring and motivating. My goal is swimming at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in 2018."

Moesha's coach is Olympic gold medallist, Bradford Cooper, who took out the 400m freestyle at the 1972 Games in Munich.

"As a kid I was in the water all the time. I loved competing. At each level I wanted to do more and more," said Moesha, who's been swimming at Cooper's Burleigh Aquatic Centre since she was a baby.

Her first success was silver in the 800m freestyle at the Australian Age Swimming Championships in 2013. A year later she finished that competition with a silver in the 16-years girls' 800m freestyle and bronze in the 16-years girls' 400m freestyle. Since then Moesha has been selected in the Australian Junior Team, and added to her haul of silverware with second place in the 800m at the Oceania Championships and the 1500m at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships (Pan Pacs).

"I've had a late growth spurt. When I was 12, all these girls were towering over me," she said. "Now I'm 5'10 and reaching my most successful times. I've found developing later keeps you in the sport. By peaking now, I can get better times in the open division."

Moesha's studying SCU's new Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree as a pathway to becoming a surgeon. She is also part of the University's Elite Athlete Program.

"Luckily SCU offered biomedical science from this year which worked perfectly for me in terms of not having to travel to the north end of the Gold Coast, plus SCU fits in with my training schedules and the campus is really close to home," she said.

"Having flexibility with my studies is important with all my training. I come to campus for three units, then the fourth one I do online. SCU is really easy with communicating about times I may miss with swimming and helping me arrange other things. The staff are friendly and care about me and all the other students."

Moesha said she was grateful to secure a Summerland Credit Union Scholarship through SCU's Rising Stars Scholarships program.

"The Summerland Credit Union Scholarship is a huge help with buying textbooks and the other costs in getting established at University," she said.

The Australian Swimming Championships are from April 7 to 14 at the SA Aquatic & Leisure Centre, Adelaide.

Photo: Moesha Johnson won a silver medal at the Pan Pacific Championships.

Media contact: Sharlene King media officer, Southern Cross University, 02 6620 3508 or 0429 661 349.