BSSC Year 12 student, Veda Haines, started swimming lessons at seven years of age to help her overcome a fear of water.

She not only became comfortable in the water, she came to love it!

Until recently, Veda was training nine sessions a week but cut back to four or five sessions once she began Year 12—but she suspects swimming will always be part of her life.

This year she has represented BSSC at both regional and state swimming competitions and BSSC’s Facebook page celebrates her achievements.

She more regularly represents Bendigo East Swimming Club and says her ‘swimming family’ have become like brothers and sisters, and her coach an incredibly important role model.

“I could not be more grateful for the support I have had from them.”

While anyone with some natural talent and a serious commitment to their sport might achieve the kind of success Veda has enjoyed, her accomplishments are especially gratifying because she is concurrently managing an ongoing serious health condition.

“I have been living with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) for as long as I can remember,” she says.

“It’s a condition where you faint unexpectedly and, as a swimmer, this could potentially be quite serious.

“I know a second or so before I pass out and, when I’m swimming, there’s always someone watching and ready to dive in and keep me above the water.”

She remembers as a ten-year-old passing out in the post office and hitting nearby shelves as she collapsed—giving herself a concussion.

“But most of the time I don’t hurt myself.”

Veda is learning to manage her condition better all the time, and has taken the approach she needs to get on with doing what she really enjoys, despite the challenges.

Alongside swimming opportunities, BSSC is providing Veda with an educational setting she’s really enjoying. She describes the college as having “a uni feel”.

Coming from Veda, this is significant because she is part of Melbourne University’s CHES program (Centre for Higher Education Studies).

CHES gives high-achieving, highly-motivated VCE students the opportunity to begin a first-year university subject in their area of particular interest—in Veda’s case, Psychology.

“I was also part of a group of students who recently gave feedback to the VCAA about changes to the ATAR and what is actually measured.

“I really like the proposed changes because students aren’t just being judged on a final test or exam.”

Veda says she’s found the teachers at BSSC passionate about her doing well.

“My teachers are so organised and always happy to give extra help or more materials and resources. I feel like my relationship with them is really good—and still professional.”

Veda’s mum is also a teacher so she understands the backstory to the encouragement she receives.

“Every day I see how hard Mum works—more support and recognition for teachers would be great.”

Funnily enough, it was Veda’s experience of Covid that cemented her good study habits.

“During Covid I missed seeing people, but it made me much more capable of independent study.

“My study style is to do 50 minutes of work then have a ten-minute break. I use a timer to make sure I keep to this rhythm.”

Veda is very motivated by good marks and found meeting other students in the CHES program quite inspiring.

“I’m surrounded by people who are really wanting to achieve a lot.”

De-stressing is an important part of managing VCE. Veda’s method is to occasionally give herself a complete day off.

She refuses to think about what’s due, what she still hasn’t finished or whatever is worrying her, and spends time with family or friends or walking with one of the best de-stressing ‘support systems’ available: her beautiful and devoted dog.

Her long-term plan is to study a double degree in Law and Criminology—probably at Deakin Waterfront in Geelong.

“At the moment I imagine myself working in criminal law with a focus on youth.

“I’m convinced if all you see is a naughty kid when you look at a young person who has done something wrong, you’re probably not seeing the whole picture.

“The reasons why someone does what they do, and the background factors that lead a young person to end up in the justice system, have to be considered.

“I only picked up Legal Studies this year and I just love it. In fact, when I think about someone I’d love to have a conversation with, it would be a lawyer—to find out about their day-to-day work.

“I’m most proud of how hard I’ve worked with my swimming and at school—and I’ve done it all despite the challenges of POTS.

“Some people think I’m crazy to swim but I would say it’s so important not to be controlled by other people’s opinions about which opportunities you should—or shouldn’t—take.

“That includes saying ‘yes’ to a student profile!”