Sam Bayada has only been dabbling in triathlons for two years, and is already making waves on the Western Regional Academy of Sports stage.
The 14-year-old is one of four Piranhas who were recently selected to represent Orange in the triathlon New South Wales squad, joining the likes of Molly Dean, Sophie Martin, Amy Robinson and Jessie Tudor.
Also part of the squad is Bathurst's Emily Bennett, as well as Mudgee's Halle Potter and Riley Taylor.
He first started swimming when he was six months old, but when he watched his cousin Josh Stapley compete at the Australia Day triathlon in Bathurst, he thought he'd give it a go as well.
In the last year, with the help of trainers Rory Thornhill and Tristan Harrison, Bayada has transformed from an up and coming triathlete with a swimming background, to a well-rounded competitor who embraces all three disciplines.
"I've been swimming my whole life but I only just started triathlons," Bayada said.
I've been swimming my whole life but I only just started triathlons.Sam Bayada.
"I'd done pretty much zero running or cycling before I started, but now swimming is probably my least favourite of the three."
But now, Bayada is keen to continually improve all three facets of the sport and is feeling great in the wake of his surprise selection.
"I'm really excited," he said.
"I've been upping my training a bit lately, and I'm really looking to gain more knowledge about triathlons and become a better all-round athlete.
"I'd like to make it to higher levels of triathlons and compete in other places."
When you've got teammates like Martin and Tudor, it's not hard to aim for higher honours as Bayada is constantly surrounded with sensational stars in the Piranhas community.
"I definitely look up to the other triathletes, as well as the coaches," he said.
Not only does the WRAS program include an uptick in training, it will give Bayada - and the whole team - an opportunity to compete in different parts of the state.
"There's events coming up in Canberra and Penrith," he said.
"And we're also required to do training by ourselves and are given programs."
There's more of an emphasis on triathlons in the summer but during the winter, Bayada plays rugby league for Orange CYMS, and loves the challenge of competing in both sports.
For now, Bayada will continue to chip away at his home schooling studies while working on his triathlon training regime.
With the Central West lockdown expected to end towards the second half of October, there's a good chance the WRAS team will be able to attend the November event at Canberra.
"We still have the opportunity to train one-on-one with Tristan [Harrison] during the lockdown," he said.
"But once it's over we can go back to training together as a squad." Bathurst's Luke Gillmer is one half of the squad's coaching staff, while Orange's Rory Thornhill is the Piranhas mentor.
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