Year 11 boarder Ed Gilmore is living testament to the value of hard work. He trains more than 30 hours a week, sometimes rising as early as 4.30am, and now he’s been selected in the Paris and Beyond Australian water polo squad for the 2024 Olympics. 

It’s the latest of many honours Ed has received in the past 12 months, having been chosen for the national youth squad in June and the Australian under-16 side in 2020. He is also an accredited Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) athlete.

Tall and broad-shouldered, he has developed his natural gifts to become one of the brightest water polo prospects in the country today.

Hard yakka has been key.

Ed, 17, represents Joeys firsts, NSW and Drummoyne Devils in the under-18s and Australian Water Polo League. On top of training, he plays several matches a week and has to balance his sporting pursuits with studying for the HSC and pursuing his career goal of becoming an occupational therapist. It’s a demanding schedule in anyone’s language.

Water polo workhorse: Year 11 boarder Ed Gilmore trains more than 30 hours a week and is an AIS athlete.

But knowing he is fully prepared and can play to his potential makes the grind of training much more bearable. Not that Ed is one to complain.

“You get used to it and you learn to knock yourself out at 9pm the night before so you get a good night’s sleep,” Ed says. “But I like it because I love water polo, and I think the difficulty of it – it’s like a combination of basketball, soccer and rugby, only on water – pulls me towards it.”

Practice is also where he builds the stamina and learns the skills to succeed at the elite level. It is one thing to be swim-fit, it is another to be water polo-fit staying afloat for anything up to 14 minutes at a time, and swimming like the clappers to chase down the ball – and opponents. It is something his Joeys coach, Mr Bronson Ronan, has been keen to emphasise, and Ed appreciates the focus.

“You’re trying to find out where the ball is, and tell your teammates where to go as well as listen for what they want you to do. So you need to be fit in a way that just being able to swim isn’t enough.”

“I want to be the best player I can and if that leads me to playing at the Olympics then that’s a great honour and privilege.”

YEAr 11 student Ed Gilmore

At Joeys, Ed has also been able to absorb the influence of older players, which has helped push his game to another level. Playing in the firsts forced him to confront his limitations. 

“It really taught me I can’t just use my strength to play water polo,” Ed says. “It wasn’t good enough to be big enough. There are so many skills and techniques I needed to have to be able to play at that level with them.”

Earlier this year, he was invited to train with the women’s Olympic water polo team on the Sunshine Coast. It was a huge eye-opener.

“It was really helpful,” Ed says. “I’ve been exposed to a lot of Olympic-level male players – I train with Aidan Roach, Nick Brookes, and Lachie and Blake Edwards – but playing against a whole team of Australian women’s players is very different. They’re not as strong as playing against men but they’re so skilful. It knocks you off your feet the first time you play against them.”

Following his dream: Selection for the Paris and Beyond squad means Ed is a step closer to making the 2024 Olympics team.

Being in the Paris and Beyond squad enables Ed to use the AIS facilities in Canberra. His progress will be monitored by Water Polo Australia and in the new year he will spend weeks at a time training there under the guidance of specialist coaches. 

He would love to represent the green and gold with the Aussie Sharks at the Paris Olympics but his main objective is improvement.

“I want to be the best player I can be and if that leads to me playing at the Olympics then that’s a great honour and privilege. I really want to play to the standard of the Olympic players I play and train against.”

The College is proud of Ed’s achievements so far and wishes him every success as he follows his Olympic dream.