Colin O’Riordan – Sydney Swans

AFL Europe flew Irish young gun, Colin O’Riordan, over to partake in the 2015 Melbourne AFL Draft Combine. Colin performed outstandingly and went on to sign a 2 year International Rookie deal with Sydney Swans. Colin will keep us updated over his time there!

Diary Part 2

“Keep going, don’t give in, push yourself harder, there’s more in the tank” these phrases were a common theme in my first pre season with the Swans. They constantly popped into my head and kept me positive for those long four months, four months that I thought would never end. Without a shadow of a doubt it was the toughest and most physically demanding thing I have ever done. To leave my family, friends and girlfriend in Ireland and pack my bags and head to Australia and play a game I never played before. It’s something I never saw myself doing but when the opportunity arose I knew I couldn’t turn it down. I felt I had two choices, reject the offer and be always left wondering or embrace the challenge and have a crack at this opportunity.

Coming over initially I didn’t know what to expect, I had heard people saying that an “AFL pre season is tough” and “be prepared”, but until you actually experience it first hand yourself I don’t think you really understand how true that statement is. The running seemed to be endless, the demands being placed on my body was something I wasn’t used to. I can safely say I have never felt so physically exhausted as I did in my last four months. In saying that I have never felt fitter and stronger either. While the running and physical work during pre season was hard and I often questioned how I would get through it, I quickly realised that I can push myself further than I ever thought was imaginable.

I remember one morning in particular lying in bed, knowing what lay ahead for the day and just wanting to close my eyes and go back to sleep. I honestly thought, if I ran today I would break down. I just couldn’t possibly see myself running, simply because I thought my body wouldn’t handle it. The weirdest things come into your head on occasions like this, however it always resorts back to one thing; I began to think about my family at home. You don’t want to disappoint them or let them down so you push yourself that extra little bit. “They didn’t raise a quitter” was my legacy during my first pre season and when things got tough this is what kept me going. The running didn’t last forever either and I knew that the pain and tiredness I was feeling was only physical and eventually it would subside.

I honestly can’t describe the sense of accomplishment and somewhat relief I felt after completing every session. Knowing that you gave your all and pushed yourself to the max is actually a pretty good feeling. I’d usually finish training and jump in the ice bath for 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes in the Jacuzzi to reenergize my aching muscles. It’s amazing how quickly your body recovers itself after a tough session. You come in after training and think you’ll never run again and suddenly two days later you’re out there running around like a new person. I learned one major thing in my four months here and that is that recovery is crucial in sport. It is probably something that at home I didn’t take that serious but once your placed in an environment where recovery is a large proportion of the game you quickly see how important it is.

Another major thing I learned is that diet is so important. What you place in your body has a direct impact in how you perform on the field. Since I moved here I live off the mantra “you eat crap, you play crap”. It’s a simple mantra but incredibly true. If you don’t eat the correct foods before training, matches or gym sessions, you’re not going to reap the rewards. I realized at a very early stage if I was going to keep up with these “freak” athletes I needed to eat the right foods and fuel my body correctly.

I suppose if I was to sum up my first pre season at the Swans in three words I would have to say, “tough”, “relentless” and “enjoyable”. You might wonder where I get the enjoyment out of feeling sick, exhausted or frustrated but like I said its that feeling of self accomplishment that beats every other feeling in the world. That feeling of fulfillment, that I started and completed one of the toughest things imaginable is amazing and it overrides every physical pain I felt during my four months to date. Here’s to an exciting first season!

Check out more on Colin on his Talent Page.