The Hobart

Lapping It Up: Max Giuliani’s Olympic Dream

by Hobart Magazine
Lapping It Up: Max Giuliani’s Olympic Dream

In just 1 minute and 45.83 seconds, Max Giuliani’s life changed. This was his winning time in the men’s 200m freestyle final at the Australian Swimming Championships in June – a thrilling victory that secured the 20-year-old Tasmanian a coveted spot in the Australian Olympic Team heading to Paris.

This achievement fulfills a lifelong dream for Max. “As a kid I kinda told everyone I wanted to be an Olympian,” he says with a laugh. His passion for swimming was shaped by his upbringing in the Southern Beaches. From his family home in Carlton, he spent all his time at the beach and surf club with his mates. His parents, adamant about water safety, ensured he learned to swim from a young age. “My Mum and Dad thought it was very important.”

Despite his love for the sport, Max nearly turned away from it altogether. Many of his friends were pursuing trades, and he considered following suit. “Just because it was easier and I didn’t think I would be able to pursue swimming to the level that I wanted to,” he admits. Everything changed in 2022 when his coach, Paul Crosswell, got offered a job in the Gold Coast. 

Suddenly Max was faced with a choice. Stay in Tassie and become a tradesman, or go to Queensland and pursue swimming? A big fear of his is missed opportunities. If he stayed, he believes the ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts’ of his cut-short swimming career would plague him. “You’ve only got a certain amount of time to do a sport, so it’s very important to pursue it while you’re young.” And so, off he went. 

At just 18-years-old, Max said goodbye to his loved ones to chase his passion. Homesick, he underwent long and intense periods of training. All of the hard work paid off with his Olympic-qualifying victory in June. As difficult as the decision was for Max to leave home, it has gone swimmingly.

The response to Max’s Olympic qualification has been electric. “The amount of support I’ve received is like nothing I’ve experienced in my life. It’s unreal. My phone hasn’t stopped going crazy since the race.” Indeed, it was a challenge to get a hold of the busy young athlete for this interview! While his life has been hectic, he’s proud of this achievement and wouldn’t have it any other way. “I feel like I got the whole state behind me. I really hope I can make everyone proud in Paris,” he says.

You might have crossed paths with Max without knowing it. Long before his sudden rise to fame, he helped his dad at Hobart’s Farm Gate Market, manning the Sirocco South stall. He’s even worked at Dark Mofo. But those days are behind him now. “I’ve stepped back from that because I’ve had so much sport to commit to. Wasn’t really a fan of getting up early on a Sunday morning,” he jokes.

He holds a deep respect for the sport’s legacy. In particular, Ian Thorpe, one of the world’s greatest swimmers, is an idol of his. “To do what he did is super inspiring. His records are still standing from before I was born.” Eyes shifted to Max last December when he became the second-fastest Australian of all time to swim the 200-metre freestyle. The record-holder? Ian Thorpe. 

Max is truly on his way to legend status, and he cannot wait to be part of the Australian Olympic swimming team. “It’s the most watched sport of the Olympics. I feel like everyone tunes in to watch the swimming.” Indeed, swimming is also Australia’s most successful sport at the Olympics, with 221 medals total, a number that will surely increase this year. The pressure is immense, but Max isn’t letting it get to him. “I just really hope to be able to be part of the legacy the team leaves behind this year.”

All year he’s been locked in, and that will continue until the Olympics are over. When he finally gets a break, though, his plans are clear. “A whole heap of fishing. I can’t wait to get back to Tassie and fish for as long as I can.” His favourite spot? “Eaglehawk Neck, for sure,” he replies instantly.

For now, Max remains steadfastly focused on Paris, and he has high hopes for what the team will accomplish this year. “This year’s team is extremely good. I think we’ve got an opportunity to do something that’s never been done before as a team this year. I really hope I contribute to that as best as I can.” 

The Olympics will see Max swimming for his country over 17,000km from home. He has worked incredibly hard for this goal. If only his younger self who dreamed of being an Olympian could see him now. 

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