Fish out of Water

Fish out of Water

There's always plenty of talk around the cricketing world of batters spending their extra time hitting a few golf balls. Former Test captain Ricky Ponting is well known for his golfing ability. How about Olympic swimmers? We played Spring Valley golf course with Ashley Delaney and Joshua Beaver, who have both represented Australia in Backstroke events at numerous international meets. Ash only retired from competition in April 2016, and has come full circle to now be coaching Josh and hoping to take him to Commonwealth Games gold next year. They've both been playing golf for a while and as we found out are pretty handy with the clubs. 

Spring Valley Golf Club
Josh Beaver lining up a long putt.

PGE: How did your swimming career start off?

Josh: It started because I was an asthmatic when I was 6 years old. I went through YMCA swimming lessons until I was 8, and then I moved to Casey Tigersharks (then known as Cranbourne Tigersharks). After ten years with the Tigersharks I moved to Nunawading to advance my career, and I'm now swimming under Ash.

Ash: I first started swimming in Gladstone, I think I was about six or seven. I only got into it because my sister was swimming, and they asked me to join in for the Friday night races. It started off for me as a 15 meter race where a rope was held across the pool as a finish line.

From there I moved up to Northern Territory (Ash lived in Nhulunby, in Arnhem Land), still as a junior swimmer. I got my first taste of competition representing NT at the national primary school games. The biggest thing for me was watching Keiran Perkins at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, that spurred me on. Obviously I was never going to be a 1500m swimmer, but watching an Australian win gold was incredible. 

What would you say was your biggest achievement or proudest career moment was?

Josh: My proudest moment would be winning two silver and a bronze at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. That'd go equally alongside qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics after narrowly missing the 2012 London games. 

Ash and I are targeting to go one better than Glasgow when the Gold Coast Comm Games come around next year. Bringing home gold would be amazing!

Ash: I've probably got three. An Olympic silver medal swimming the heats of the 4x100 Medley Relay at the Beijing Olympics. A Commonwealth Games gold at Delhi in 2010 in the Medley Relay again. That moment was really special, standing on top of the medal dais and getting to sing the national anthem. That's an opportunity not too many people get. From an individual perspective, it would have to be breaking the Commonwealth Record in the 200 Backstroke. That was at the 2009 World Championships Trials in Sydney, from my own personal achievements, that was pretty special, being the fastest ever in the Commonwealth.

Ashley Delaney

Joshua Beaver
The boys teeing off. Top: Ash Delaney, bottom: Josh Beaver

How did you get into golf?

Ash: My stepdad played golf, and so did my dad. I played with them a little bit but I was a bit of a weekend hack at public courses! I'd maybe play three or four times a year. As I got older a few more of my friends started getting into golf and I took it a bit more seriously. A year ago I got my membership at Riversdale Golf Course. I was lucky enough to get a lesson from one of the Victorian Institute of Sport golf coaches that I knew from being around the VIS with swimming. I thought I'd take the opportunity to get a free lesson!

Josh: Ash actually invited me to come down to the course one time, and I have a few mates in Mornington who are right into it as well. I grew up in the country where there wasn't much to do, so I began by just having a little bash in the backyard. I made my way by playing a bit more at the nine-hole in Pearcedale, then moved on to the courses at Mornington. Now I get to play at a few of the bigger courses around Melbourne when I have the chance, some through charity days. It's really good fun, but I'm no professional by any means.

Spring Valley Golf Course

What do you think of the Peter Thomson gear?

Ash: When I've gotten onto the PT2 they've gotten great distance, and they have really good control around the greens. Good shots have been few and far between today, but I think that's more me than the balls!

Josh: I love the prototype driver! That is one sexy club. The irons feel extremely classy, and are definitely better than any clubs I've used before. I can really feel the ball taking off well through the club, it comes out very smoothly and softly from the club face. 

Spring Valley Golf Course

Spring Valley Golf Club