With the Olympics upon us, Ainslee Togia’s four gold and three silver medals easily portend similar things to come. She won the medals in the recent Queensland swimming titles. At that same event, the Brisbane member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also broke the meet’s standing 50m backstroke record.
Considering that many Olympic stars begin their career at age fourteen or fifteen, Ainslee’s future may have more conspicuous podiums sooner than she imagines.
The young star is happy enough to win races and medals, and she hopes to someday represent her country--perhaps as an Olympian; but because of her mother, Ainslee sees winning in a brighter light.
Says Ainslee, “My mum reminds me that success is not winning the race—it’s HOW you win the race.”
For Ainslee, the “how” includes keeping the Sabbath Day holy by not practicing and competing on Sundays. “My coaches don’t even ask if I’m swimming on Sunday,” she says. “They already know I’m not. It’s hard for them, but they respect our family’s beliefs; and I know I am blessed in the events I am able to compete in.”
“She was raised in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” says her mother, Sally, “but she has only been a competitive swimmer since 2010. She still gives her time and attention to meaningful things like helping the family, raising money for charity, going to Church, and faith in God.“
Ainslee can already see the impact of today’s decisions on her future goals. “I use the gospel,” she says, “to guide me with choices.” She is set on an education and being able to teach PE.
“And,” she says, “I believe in the power of prayer. I always pray before I hit the water. I pray that I will have the strength to give it my best—so if I don’t come out winning, I can feel satisfied that I did my best.”
Last year Ainslee’s gift for swimming became fully evident to her parents and her sister, who is also a Sabbath-observing club swimmer. Ainslee broke Regional Records, School Zones Records and State Records as well as records in team relays at the national schools competition.
Sally appreciates Ainslee’s gift for swimming, and Ainslee appreciates her mother’s approach to it. “Mum keeps me doing what normal children should be doing—cleaning, washing dishes, homework, and learning manners.”
Last month Ainslee won the McDonald Young Star award for Brisbane City South in sports for 2011-2012. She has just competed in the National Schools Swimming Championship in Sydney—in eight events!