Long after the Pacific Games XVI hype is finally settled, the name Brandon Schuster, will continue to ripple in the pools of swimming competition in Samoa.
The double gold medalist at the Tuanaimato Aquatic Centre is without any doubt, the name and face now associated with the sport of swimming in Samoa.
Visibly exhausted after winning gold in the men’s 400m individual medley and an unsuccessful men’s relay medal effort, he was squeezed in a warm-down water bubble when he trusted his winning secrets to Newsline Samoa.
“God, country, training and competing,” he easily listed.
He modestly played down his gold medals from the men’s 200m breaststroke and 400m individual medley, as ‘two more than what I thought I would get”.
But he was ‘ happy and excited’ with his wins but like all the other swimmers in his races, he was nervous.
“I give it all to God because He strengthened me in all my races,” was the praise he gave for his victories.
Swimming at home is always a pressure on him in every race and having the local supporters cheer him along piles it on.
Schuster began swimming competitively for Samoa in 2012 and has felt ever since the pressures of the country ‘s expectations on his shoulders.
He was so determined he personally lumped a heavy burden of expectations on his shoulders to succeed for Samoa.
This was in the early days when swimming was a young sports just starting out for Samoa and he was still an unknown.
“ I think that has come full circle now, the people are noticing that we have strong swimmers in Samoa.
“They are seeing that it’s not just the few sports we are good in, there are many other sports we can compete and be competitive at on a higher level and swimming is one of them.”
Having the Prime Minister come around especially to watch and to receive a handshake from him was one of the highlights of the Games for Schuster.
He also felt it was a much needed acknowledgement of the hard work by the Samoa Swimming Federation.
The winning of medals and the experience for Samoa was a major highlight for the champion swimmer.
He took particular note of the Games experience for the children as awesome, obviously with the hope it will encourage them take up interest in swimming.
The Pacific Games XVI is the second for Schuster and has made it easier for him to know that the level of competition has shot up in the last four years.
His winning time of 4:24.04 sets up a new mark to beat in the next Games for the men’s 400m individual medley.
“ In the last Pacific Games I won my race in 36 seconds and in these Games I had to get down to 24 seconds to win.
“Competition has improved so much the only way to get faster is to compete with top level athletes as we’re doing here in the Pacific.”
The immediate future for the gold medalist is as close as next week when he flies out on Tuesday for the World Swimming Championship in South Korea.
His ultimate goal is next year at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics in Japan but first he has to swim much faster than his gold medal winning time this week.
“ I am 3 seconds off the qualifying time for the Olympics and it’s an amazing opportunity to qualify and represent Samoa.”
Team Samoa has so far won four gold medals from the Tuanaimato pools, with Schuster claiming two, Lauren Sale won gold in the women’s 200m backstroke and Lushavel Stickland in the women’s 50m backstroke .