Daniel Tranter learns to pack a punch in pool

Fighting for gold: Daniel Tranter is hoping his work in the boxing ring will help him win gold in the pool in Glasgow. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Fighting for gold: Daniel Tranter is hoping his work in the boxing ring will help him win gold in the pool in Glasgow. Photo: Brendan Esposito

He has chalked up hundreds of kilometres in the water but it is the countless hours swimmer Daniel Tranter has spent throwing leather in a sweaty Campbelltown boxing gymnasium that has braced him to ''fight'' every inch of the the 200-metre individual medley event at next month's Commonwealth Games.

Tranter has worked to develop the mental edge that could propel him to the medalist's dais at Glasgow by training – and sparring – with promising cruiserweight Emosi Solitua, who has rumbled with the likes of former Commonwealth Games champion Brad Pitt and former Kiwi rugby leaue international Paul Whatuira.

"When people ask me about the benefits of training with Emosi, they probably expect me to talk about the physical advantages, and while that's true, I'm developing a mental edge from being around these guys," Tranter, a London Olympian, said.

"If you don't put 100 per cent into swimming you might go a bit slower in the race, but these guys go into the ring with the reality they might get hurt or may have to hurt someone. What's incredible is they put themselves into that mental state where that's OK with them.

"It's a mental strength I haven't seen before. Emosi has a switch in his head and when the bell goes it's flicked on. He wouldn't even consider it a possibility that he could lose regardless of who he was pitted against.

"Being exposed to that has allowed for me to adapt to that and I take the killer instinct into swimming. That's where I've made the most gain from being around Emosi."

Tranter said copping the occasional blow from the power-packed Samoan warrior meant the "psych out" sessions that go on before a race would never again have an effect on him.

"In swimming there's either the physical intimidation or the star status of someone like [American Olympian] Michael Phelps that people struggle with," he revealed.

"It's going to be hard to be psyched out by star status after I've been jumping in the ring with Emosi. That's a lot more intimidating than standing behind the blocks with someone flexing his muscles."

But Tranter has never lacked the guts needed to triumph over adversity. Going into the London Olympics, he was involved in a car crash when he took his eyes off the road to retrieve a water bottle that rolled off his lap and became stuck under the brake pedal.

After feeling relieved that the family he had crashed into were fine, Tranter realised he had damaged his back and suffered whiplash. He learnt plenty about himself as he fought a gutsy race against the clock to fulfil his Olympic dream.

"It didn't even cross my mind how my car was or if I was OK," he recalled of the crash. "It happened in a split second and I remember knocking on the window of the car I had rear-ended ... there was three kids in the back and my concern was for them.

"If I'd left my head in the position it was in as I picked up the bottle instead of being able to sit up reasonably straight before the accident, I could've had my head crushed into the dashboard.

''That time taught me a lot about myself – not so much abut my swimming, but as a person. I'd never really faced as much adversity as I did because of that accident."

This story Daniel Tranter learns to pack a punch in pool first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.