Swimming ACT Championships
Bonnie Zhang from Aranda with her gold medal. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Ian Thorpe's former coach rates her potential and has taken her under her wing, but young Canberra swimmer Bonnie Zhang is content to bide her time as she chases her own Olympic glory.
The 16-year-old has been training under Thorpe's old mentor, Tracey Menzies, since late last year at Swimming Australia's National Training Centre at the Australian Institute of Sport.
Previously on Steve Meredith's squad, Zhang is the ACT's highest ranked female in all freestyle distances from 50 metres to 800 metres.
Bonnie Zhang from Aranda with her gold medal from the ACT Swimming Championships at the AIS. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Like Thorpe, herpet event is the 400 metres, but Menzies is careful not to put too much pressure on Zhang, who claimed the 400-metre and 800-metre double at the ACT Swimming Championships at the weekend.
Menzies feels the Rio 2016 Olympic Games may be too close for Zhang, but said she's capable of targeting the 2020 Olympics.
New Swimming Australia coach Jarko Verhaeren has targeted 2020 as the year he hopes his adopted country will emerge as world swimming's superpower.
''She's a good trainer and has a willingness to make change, I wouldn't have her training in our capacity if I didn't think there was something in her,'' Menzies said.
''But you don't want to put pressure on a young athlete, or say she's going to be the next superstar, like we have done with some of our athletes.
''If she is willing to make changes and is still enjoying it, that's half the battle.
''She wants to be a better athlete and has made a couple of stroke changes; which is difficult when you've swum a while. She trusts what I'm trying to do.
''Rio would be a difficult one, she's never swum in [long-course] opens and will step up next year; so small steps first.''
While she has admitted it's ''exciting'' to be mentored by the woman who helped Thorpe dominate world swimming, Zhang is in no rush herself.
''It's going really well, I feel like I've reached another level in my swimming,'' she said.
''I have my goals, but I'm just swimming for fun and try not to put too much pressure on trying to make certain teams.
''It's a bit of an achievement to be swimming there and I'm trying to get a scholarship.''
Along with Zhang winning both her events, three fellow Canberrans will go to next month's age nationals in Sydney on the back of ACT championship records.
Shannon Maloney (15 and over 100m butterfly), Rebecca Cross (13-14 200m breaststroke) and Courtney Taylor (13 50m free and 13 100m backstroke) all swam their way into the record books.