Sargent sailing towards a bright future

At 13, Will Sargent and his father built their very first sailing boat in their garage.

At first feeling fearful of the sport, no one had expected the boy to go far with it. Years later, Sargent is sailing in competitions around the world as part of Australian Sailing’s Performance Pathway Futures Program, aiming to one day compete in the Olympics.

As a member of the La Trobe University Elite Athlete Program (LEAP) who is currently studying a Bachelor of Business (Sport Management), Sargent takes on a busy lifestyle, juggling his sporting passion while pursuing his academic career.

LEAP supports over 100 elite athletes across a wide range of sports who are studying at La Trobe. The unique program provides student athletes with everything they need to successfully combine study and sport, including access to La Trobe’s world-class sport facilities, dedicated academic case management, professional development opportunities and much more.

Through being highly flexible and providing learning plans to its members, the Elite Athlete Program gives Sargent the support he needs, especially throughout competition time.

“After many conversations with some of the guys at La Trobe, it became apparent that it was doable to have both a sporting career and an academic career,” Sargent said.

“It keeps my options open if I get a career-changing injury.”

The constant change in sceneries and the freedom sailing presents compared to other sports is what makes sailing so enjoyable, Sargent says.

“I mean, compared to swimming where you’re looking at a line for multiple hours on end, with sailing you have got waves, wind, sea life and other competitors, Sargent said.

“It’s just a really cool sport to be a part of.”

The career highlight for the national champion has been winning a bronze medal in the Pacific Games, but he continues to aim for higher. Having trained with gold medalists from the Tokyo Olympic Games, he is inspired for the Olympics to eventually become his own reality.

So what is his advice for future student athletes looking to study at La Trobe?

“It is actually quite plausible and can benefit your sporting career, it’s not a sideshow,” Sargent said.

“It really is something that can give you a purpose in your downtime and feel like you’re still tracking toward multiple different goals.”

Sargent says the pandemic has caused uncertainty with his future, but if all goes to plan, his next 12 months are expected to be full of travel and competitions.

“I’ve got trips to New Zealand, the US, France; all these different regattas which will be really cool after two years off with no traveling,” Sargent said.

“I’m pretty keen to go see the world and do some sailing events along the way. “

For more information on the La Trobe Elite Athlete Program, visit the La Trobe Sport website.