Jack Gerrard: Creating a splash at Nationals

Starting his swimming journey at age nine, Jack Gerrard has come a long way since his days growing up in Cairns, Queensland.

In 2010 at age 15, Jack left Far North Queensland and moved to Melbourne to focus on his swimming and education.

Fast forward to 2018 and Jack is now studying Medicine at Monash University, is Club Captain of Melbourne Vicentre Swimming Club and has represented Australia on the international stage.

It has been a tough 24 months for Jack going from the high of a BRONZE medal at the 2016 World Short Course Championships to missing out on most of 2017 through injury which impacted his Commonwealth Games campaign.

Despite Juggling full-time study in Medicine and training, Jack was part of the Monash University swim team that went to the Gold Coast and competed in the National University Championships (NUC).

The Men’s team won the Division One Championship with Jack a big reason for their success.

“I was pretty stoked winning the overall men’s championship, because I know Monash hasn’t done it for a long time,” said Jack.

“Part of me going to National Uni Champs, was because I’ve taken gap years and I’ve had to move assessments time after time [due to my Swimming] and I wanted to go and represent the Uni and give something back.”

“More or less as a thank you for everything they’ve dealt with on my part, to come away as the winning men’s team was a bit of a job well done.”

Jack (top right) with the Monash Swim Team. Photo: Team Monash

Jack walked away from Nationals with FIVE GOLD medals, THREE SILVER Medals, ONE BRONZE medal and THREE GAMES RECORDS.

Not too shabby… Oh who are we kidding, Jack was unreal!

Talking about his individual success Jack said “I wasn’t expecting too much going in, to be honest, so it was a bit of shock more than anything else.”

“I thought going in, maybe I could get a few medals and do the university proud, but after the first day, you sort of get a feel of how you’re going to race and where you’re at.”

“From there I realised I was swimming well and focused on doing my best each day. My results were definitely a pleasant surprise.”

A funny anecdote from Jack’s racing…

Disappointed he didn’t break the games record for the 200m freestyle the day before, Jack let officials know that he would go for it in the 400m the next day.

Jack blitzed the field over the first 200m and smashed the record before using the final 200m as a cool-down because of the short turnover between events.

It was truly remarkable to watch.

NUC was a chance for Jack to compete at a high-level, try some new things and take some risks.

He noted that he hadn’t swam in so many events at one competition since his junior days, but highlighted that he liked the change up.

Instead of preparing meticulously for a race, athletes are thrown in the deep-end and forced to adapt.

“I really enjoyed that the races were so close together… I did 5 races in one session and the sessions are only about an hour and 15 minutes,” said Jack.

“It just meant you would race and sometimes you’d get to go swim-down quickly and race again, or sometimes you’d just have to hop back out and have a couple minutes before you race [again].”

“But, I thought it was pretty cool, to be able to try and race as fast as you can race after race.”

All smiles for another gold medal at Nationals 2018. 
Photo:Team Monash
When reflecting on his week Jack said that many of his races had someone who had made the Australian team, but noted that despite the tough competition, the meet was more relaxed than typical events.

“It was easier to focus on yourself and not be afraid to try different things, and given there was no prospect of selection for any team, the stakes weren’t as high. If you smash it in the first 100 and die, then at least you learn.”
Jack took away a lot of positives from the NUC meet, in particular his ability to race “back-to-back-to-back.”

The manner in which he swam also gave Jack a lot of confidence especially with the Australian Short Course Championships right around the corner.

The Australian Short Course Championships will be in late October and held in Melbourne for the first time in several years.

The Australian team will be selected from the Australian Championships, which are a precursor to the World Short Course Championships.

“Ideally, taking the form from NUC, I’d love to perform even better, make that team and represent Australia again.”

All of Monash is right behind you Jack as you take on the world! #monashpride

Written by: James Oana
Media Coordinator

2018 National University Championships Wrap-up

In a week where we seemingly brought Melbourne’s cold weather with us to Queensland, our athletes shone through the clouds to take the competition by storm. Pun very much intended.

It was a week to savour, from our beach volleyballers not dropping a set on their way to GOLD in Division Two to Jack Gerrard blitzing the swimming competition on his way to FIVE GOLD medals, THREE SILVER Medals, ONE BRONZE medal and THREE GAMES RECORDS!

2018 saw Monash University send our smallest team in recent history, with only 210 athletes competing at the inaugural National University Championships, down from a team of 548 in 2017. However, our athletes beat our Gold medal haul from 2017 by 1, taking home 6 Division One Pennants and 1 Division Two gold medal.
Our Mixed Netball team took out back-to-back Division One gold medals. Photo: Team Monash.

Mixed Netball – GOLD

Our Mixed Netball team went back-to-back with a convincing 8 point win in the final against Victoria University as they completed a dominate sweep of the competition.

Table Tennis Women– GOLD

Our girls came from behind to beat Melbourne 6-4 in a hotly contested final.

Table Tennis Men– GOLD

Monash took an early 3-0 lead in their final against UNSW and never looked back, wrapping up their tie 6-2 to take out the competition.

Swimming Men – GOLD

Led by Jack Gerrard the Men’s swim team won their first overall gold in recent memory.

Taekwondo Overall – GOLD

Taekwondo continue their strong tradition at Nationals, taking out yet another overall championship, making it almost too many too count. 9 in the last 10 years.

Badminton Men – GOLD

Taking on a strong UQ, our boys were able to come home with the win. 159 – 127.

Volleyball Beach – GOLD

Playing at Australia’s highest level, Jarrah and Dakota started their Nationals campaign in Division Two where they did not drop a single set and beat a strong RMIT in the gold medal match 2-0 (RMIT’s boys were also national level athletes). The boys are set for a dig at the Division One title next year #cantwait.

Sailing – Silver

Our sailing team fell to a strong UTS crew in the final 2-1.

Badminton Women – SILVER

Locked in a tight battle against Melbourne. Our girls were unable to capitalise on a bright 2-0 start, eventually going down 3-2.

Kendo - Bronze

Our Kendo team finished equal third overall, helped by a hard fought third place in the Kyu team division. In the individual category Emily Coady claimed Fourth place and won the Fighting Spirit Award.
Tennis Women – BRONZE

Our girls wrapped-up the bronze with three convincing singles wins. #1 Seed won 9-3. #2 Seed won 9-1. #3 Seed won 9-1.

Our Tennis girls winning Bronze. Photo: Team Monash.

Touch Men – FOURTH

Our Touch men’s defied all odds to make the semi-finals, our boys unfortunately went down to a strong Western Sydney 9-5 in the Bronze medal match.

Athletics Overall – FOURTH

Our relatively small athletics team did unbelievably well to finish fourth. Notable achievements were:

-Olympian Georgia Griffith winning the Women’s 1500m

-Silver in the Women’s medley relay, Pillipa Huse finish with the silver medal for the Women’s 5000m walk and Silver in the Men’s 4x100m.

-Bronze in the Men’s 4x400m, Elliot claimed Bronze in the Men’s 100m, Phil won bronze in the Men’s 400m, Olivia Weston won bronze in the Women’s 5000m, Phillipa Hajdasz claimed bronze in the Women’s pole vault, and Michael won bronze in the Men’s 5000m.

Basketball Men - FIFITH

Our boys came up against some tough opposition and fell to eventual champions VU in their repechage match.

Futsal Men - FIFTH

The boys went down in a tough repechage loss to USC 4-3, they were leading 3-2 at half-time.

Swimming Women – SEVENTH

Our girls did not have the numbers to compete for the overall title, but put in a gallant effort with some brilliant individual performances.

Touch Women – EIGHTH

Up against some quality competition from the northern states our girls were competitive but ultimately finished eighth. 

Monash also had athletes in Rowing, Cycling and Judo. Two of our Judo athletes came away with an individual Silver and a Bronze. 

What a week it was, all of our athletes should be extremely proud of their efforts and achievements! #bleedblue #monashpride #bleedgrey 

The 2018 Monash University Team Captains

Congratulations to both Laura and Toby on their selection as team captains! #monashpride

Name: Toby O’Brien

Degree: Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery

Number of Nationals: 4 (including 2018)

Best Memory from Nationals: So many to choose from…but winning my first medal in 2015 was pretty cool

Most notable achievement at past nationals: 2015 – Gold in 3000m steeplechase / bronze in 5000m

Most notable achievement in sport: 6th place in 3000m steeplechase at Australian champs in 2016

Expectation for 2019 Nationals: To remain injury-free and sunburn-free!

Goals for your chosen sport: For once in my life to come out on top in a sprint-finish!

Dream job: Trans-epochal sociocultural liaison (i.e. professional time-traveller)

Any weird talents: I can guess your birth month (2 out of 3 times…guaranteed!)

If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be and why? Benny Hill, because it would probably resemble a chase scene more than a fight.

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be? ‘Community’ – who doesn’t want to have paintball war in their school?

Favourite dad joke:
“What’s a farjer?”
“Fazha, his dad…dad is fazha!”

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be: Elon Musk, Matt Damon’s character from ‘Good Will Hunting’ and Asbel Kiprop.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grow up and Why: An inventor, an artist, a professor, tennis player and soccer player all at the same time.

If a movie was being made of your life and you could choose the actor/actress to play you, who would you choose and why: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but only on the condition that he plays my character regardless of my age in each scene.

What song is currently playing on your Spotify/Apple music: Great Display of Patience by Ball Park Music.

Would you Rather Questions:

If you were reborn in a new life, would you rather be alive in the past or future: 100% put me in the past. I’m all about the simple life.

Would you rather be the funniest person in the room or the most intelligent: The funniest one, life is more fun that way. Plus you can deflect any criticism about not being intelligent!

Would you rather have free Wi-Fi wherever you go or have free coffee/tea where/whenever you want: An easy question for a person who doesn’t drink coffee or tea, having said that I could happily live without wifi.

Would you rather speak all languages or be able to speak to all animals: I would speak every human language if I could. I don’t think animals need words to communicate what they are thinking.

Would you rather be rich and ugly or poor and good-looking: If you measure richness by experience rather than money, then you could afford to be good-looking without compromising your wealth.

Would you rather always tell the truth or always lie: In the words of Dr Bennet Omalu, “Tell the truth!”

Name: Laura Cummack

Degree: Bachelor of Science and Engineering (Honours)

Number of Nationals: 3

Best Memory from Nationals: The camaraderie of the teams even if we were just short of winning Gold

Most notable achievement at past nationals: A lot of second places

Most notable achievement in sport: VNL player for 5 years over

Expectation for 2019 Nationals: GOLD! (Finally!)

Goals for your chosen sport: To become a great cohesive unit and to come back with a gold medal!

Dream job: Prosthetic development CEO

Any weird talents: I can dislocate my jaw

If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be and why: MurderMuscles, it's a nickname my friend gave me because I remind her of a character in a TV show.

If you could live in any sitcom, which one would it be: Brooklyn Nine Nine

Favourite dad joke: Electrical students have to strip to make ends meet.

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be: Janelle Monae, Russell Howard, Turia Pitt

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up, Why: To be a teacher or someone who inspires and get the best out of people. I had an awesome primary school teacher and wanted to be like her. I also wanted to be a ballerina and a fairy!

If a movie was being made of your life and you could choose the actor/actress to play you, who would you choose and why: Emma Stone because she is awesome.

What song is currently playing on your Spotify/Apple music: Twenty One Pilots- Nico and the Niners

Would you Rather Questions:

If you were reborn in a new life, would you rather be alive in the past or future:

Would you rather Be the funniest person in the room or the most intelligent: I am already both :p (but most intelligent)

Would you rather have free Wi-Fi wherever you go or have free coffee/tea where/whenever you want: Free coffee/tea

Would you rather speak all languages or be able to speak to all animals: All languages

Would you rather be rich and ugly or poor and good-looking: Poor and good looking

Would you rather always tell the truth or always lie: Always tell the truth

#monashpride #bleedblue 

Monash students Charlie and James take on the sailing world at the Junior World Champs

Monash University student Charlie Dixon writes about his experience competing at the recent Sailing Junior World Championships.

"What a trip! With my partner James Grogan, we set off on a 5 am flight in mid-August for a three week trip through France to compete at the 49er Junior World Championships in Marseille - the location of the 2024 Olympic Games.

Having only sailed a 49er for close to seven months, this regatta was due to be our first international regatta in the class and our third regatta overall. Having trained five to six days a week continually in preparation for the event, we set off excited and keen to put our skills to the test and gain a better appreciation for the boat.

Arriving in Paris, we travelled the city for a few days exploring museums, parkland and monuments before continuing on our way to Marseille via the TGV bullet trains. Arriving with a plethora of sailing gear and equipment we had the arduous task of finding our way around the city with little more than the friendliness of strangers and bikes.

We arrived to our charter boat but no mast - the first in a series of miscommunication with our French counterparts. However over the next week, we managed to train over 22 hours in five days learning about the sea state, speed testing and new equipment setup, before having three days off due to strong winds, allowing us to explore the calanques and mountains of Marseille.

Forecast to be a light wind regatta, the predictions soon changed just as the regatta began. The first day began as an offshore breeze filtering between the mountains - around 15 kts - with extremely short up-winds and down winds (around eight minutes total), which made for intense racing and a tough start to our racing, where mistakes were costly.

Meanwhile day two was postponed for around four hours until racing kicked off around 5 pm in extremely light winds: 1 - 4 kts. Combined with a current and an unstable cross swell, racing was challenging. However with great speed which hallmarked our regatta, we were first on the final lap of both races when they were abandoned due to lack of wind.

Although unfortunate for the scorecard, it was a great learning experience of what we were capable to achieve in marginal conditions, although the poor luck followed us into day three.

Being the last day of qualifying it was pivotal to have a good performance, so as to gain a spot in gold fleet. It was due to be around 20 - 30 kts all day, however our halyards snapped just before the first warning signal of the day but a quick fix allowed us to race all races and only start ten seconds late. With four capsizes in four races, the day was very tiring but overall successful in having us qualify for the finals.

The penultimate day of the regatta started in a consistent 30 kt breeze with steep waves. Unfortunately for us, we timed out of the first race, being unable to keep the boat upright downwind and the second race was abandoned whilst we were in second, due to the entire fleet being capsized with the exception of us, with everyone finding it near impossible to bear away, sail downwind or gybe. Our choice of no kite nor any gybes in the first session kept our boat together for the second session of the day in a slightly more protected location. Able to get two quick races away we scored two fifths which was the second most consistent result for the day given the multitude of capsizes.

On the final day of racing, it seemed near impossible racing would be had with the big breeze having picked up from the day before, with all classes except ours abandoned earlier in the day. Just shy of our regatta finishing time we were sent out, however with many struggling to make it out of the harbour, racing was close with a small fleet. Although a few capsizes were had by all, it was another successful day and again we finished the day higher up the leader board than any previous day, coming 15th overall.

Having had a phenomenal experience overseas and gaining so much experience and knowledge in such a short time, we are so grateful for the opportunity!"

Congratulations to Charlie and James on a great effort! #monashpride #bleedblue 

Sharing the university experience through sport

A group photo of Monash University and the National Taiwan Normal University team. Team Monash.

On Wednesday, August 29, Monash University and the National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU) team played-off in a much-anticipated basketball game, hosted at the Monash University Stadium.

Melbourne decided to snap the winter blues by putting on the charm with a beautiful day.

Students and staff alike took the opportunity to soak up the brief reprieve from the cold and gathered in mass on the lawn in front of the big screen at Clayton Campus to enjoy both the sun and a great game of basketball.

The game was enjoyed by hundreds on the lawn and reached well over 16,000 on the Team Monash Facebook page.

The game did not disappoint with both teams fighting for supremacy throughout the game.

The Taiwanese team took advantage of their deep shooting, creating many of their chances from the permitter.

The NTNU team put on a great first half display jumping out to a 12-point lead at the halftime buzzer.

Despite being down early, the Monash defence stood tall and kept them in the game.

As the game went on, Monash started to drive inside and work the ball into the paint to create their scoring opportunities, which proved key to their fightback.

Despite leading at every change, NTNU could not stop a Monash fightback that would see our boys win by 4 points.

The Taiwan National Normal University Team. Picture: Team Monash

Team Monash Director Martin Doulton reflected on the game saying that it was an important step for Varsity Sport in Australia.

“The game was an opportunity for Monash University to increase its cross-cultural ties with universities from around the world,” said Mr Doulton.

“The high-quality game reflects our commitment to ensure that our students are supported with their sporting endeavours while they complete their studies.”

“We hope that the relationships built through this game will only strengthen and lead to great opportunities for our students to compete on the international stage.”

Thank you to the National Taiwan Normal University team for a great game and we hope to continue our close relationship in the future.

Well done to our boys on getting the win #monashpride

Written by: James Oana
Media Coordinator 

Monash in Motion has officially launched

On Thursday the 16th of August, the organising committee, dignitaries and community sporting heroes gathered to officially launch Monash in Motion 2018.

For the 3rd year, Monash Council and Monash University will be the ‘City in Motion’ for Australia, jointly hosting a major community-sporting event from 16th August – 15th November 2018.

FISU endorsed Unisport Australia's nomination for Monash’s ongoing hosting of the event, recognising the University and Council’s continuous commitment to building meaningful partnerships with its local communities.

The University and the Council will open up their world-class sporting facilities to the local community and students, who will be invited to participate in a range of events to promote health and well-being.

Deputy Mayor of the City of Monash Councillor Shane McCluskey officially launching Monash in Motion. Picture: Team Monash.

Team Monash Director Martin Doulton emphasised the importance of Monash in Motion to the community:

“As a University, we take the health and well-being of our community very seriously. Not only do we provide first-class sporting clubs for students and residents alike, but we undertake wider initiatives which highlight our commitment to both physical and mental well-being,” said Mr Doulton.

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with our partners in Monash Council to share something for everyone, from an e-sport come 'n try night, to a Mega-Swim event to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis to a Water Wise surfing program to encourage water safety amongst our international communities.”

“The launch allows us as a community to celebrate all the hard-work that’s gone into Monash in Motion, but it’s also a reminder that our hard-work is just starting as we get the wider community to participate in our great events.”

Some of Monash's local community sporting heroes with their awards recognising their service. Picture: Team Monash.

The organising committee is very excited to share with you the awesome events planned for this year, which will include:

- Steptember – The wider Monash community will be invited to participate in Steptember. Teams are challenged to take more than 10,000 steps each day for the entirety of September.

- E-sports Night – Monash will host an e-sports night where students from local secondary schools will be invited to play League of Legends and interact with others from their local community. Tuesday 11 September.

- Pep Rally – Monash will celebrate its student-athletes who will compete at the 2018 National University Championships. Sunday 16 September.

- International Day of University Sport – Monash University as a community will celebrate the Day by promoting health and well-being. Thursday 20 September.

- Water wise – The City of Monash will open up its world-class aquatic centre and invite students who have never learnt to swim to gain the skills required to stay safe in the water. Thursday 27 September.

- MS Swimathon – Once more the City of Monash will open up its world-class aquatic centre to help raise money for multiple sclerosis by hosting a 24 hour swimathon. Saturday and Sunday 6 & 7 October.

- End of Event Celebration – The Monash community will celebrate the conclusion of Monash in Motion. Thursday 15 November.

Written by: James Oana
Media Coordinator 

Monash University student James Katsaros heading to the Pokemon World Championships

James contemplating his next move at the Melbourne Regionals. Picture: James Katsaros.

Nashville, a sleepy city that is probably best known for a TV show called its namesake.

However, August 24 will see Nashville host the World Championships for a little game called Pokémon.

This mega e-sport event will attract thousands from across the globe, to watch top players compete for the title of the world’s best Pokémon player.

That’s right, one of our favourite past times growing up has become an e-sport, if only our parents understood the possibilities when they told us to ‘stop staring at that stupid screen’!

A $500,000 prize pool would probably change a few minds.

Gunning for the title of World Champion is Monash University’s own James Katsaros.

While studying a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Computer Science, James is quite literally living the dream, earning money to play a game that he loves.

James, like many of us, started playing Pokémon as a kid; however, it was not until he saw an ad for the Melbourne Regionals in 2014 that he decided to give it a serious go.

A top 8 finish at that tournament would mark James’ emergence on the e-sport scene.
James winning the Melbourne Regionals.
Picture: James Katsaros.
How did James’ parents react?

You probably already know the answer.

Like most parents, the emphasis was always on education.

2016 wasn’t an easy year for James.

He went to his first World Championships in San Francisco and struggled to juggle his university commitments with his growing e-sport career.

Since then, James became the first e-sport player to be accepted into the Monash University Elite Student Performer Scheme, which helped has helped him manage his commitments.

“The key is balance. Maintaining that balance is the only way I’ll be able to continue pursuing my goals in e-sports and at university,” said James.

The hard work has paid off, rewarding James with a growing collection of trophies, prize money and the opportunity to go to Worlds.

James’ parents have been “really supportive”, which has helped him pursue his e-sports path.

So, how do the World Championships work?

The Championships are based on the newest video game of Pokémon, currently it is Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

The Pokémon used are bred and trained by each competitor throughout the span of the game.

This is the most difficult aspect of preparation for a tournament, according to James.

Each player can choose 6 Pokémon for the championships, of which 4 are used in a battle against another player.

The best of three battles decides which player is victorious. 

James after a battle at the Melbourne Regionals. Picture: James Katsaros. 

James likened the battles to a game of chess, where each Pokémon performs a role.

The task of each player is to decide the best strategy for each tournament; do you go for an all-round approach that can adapt to different situations or do you invest in a specific set of tactics?

These are questions that players need to ask as they prepare for a tournament.

Going to his second World Championships, James has set a loft goal of “making it to day two of the competition.”

There are three days of the tournament, with day 3 being the 'Championship Sunday' day, where the only game is the Grand Final.

“I feel that I am able to compete against the best in the world and as long as I can play my best, which I know I can, then I’ll be able to achieve my goals.

While James is staying humble about worlds and his future, he is just enjoying the ride and the perks of travel, and meeting new people.

Monash University wishes James all best as he competes at the World Championship.

Go get ‘em James! #monashpride #bleedblue #YNWA

Written by: James Oana
Media Coordinator 

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