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William Yang

Age

25

Place of Birth

Camperdown, NSW

Hometown

Sydney

Senior Club

Loreto normanhurst

Coach

Bobby Hurley

Olympic History

Paris 2024

 

William's Story

William Yang’s Olympic dream is back on track after he overcame two setbacks that would have forced many other swimmers to hang up their goggles. 

William returned to training with a renewed passion for the sport and the sense of calmness that comes from facing up to a major health scare. 

The Sydney swimmer was diagnosed with a tumour on his spine that left him virtually unable to walk. And after surgery and more than four months out of the pool rehabilitating, he suffered a serious tear in his shoulder that kept him out of action for another two months. 

Luckily, the tumour was benign and after his twin health scares, William is now back to being one of Australia’s fastest freestyle sprinters. 

William was born in Sydney to Chinese parents and the family moved back to Guangzhou for him to complete his primary schooling. He then returned to Sydney to attend Knox Grammar, where he began to excel in sports, especially swimming. 

Initially, he focused on backstroke and butterfly before switching to freestyle, claiming gold in the 50m butterfly at the 2019 World University Games in Naples.

After missing selection for the Tokyo Olympics, he took some time away from the sport in Hong Kong and thought about giving swimming away, but when he returned to full-time training early in 2022, things started to fall into place. 

Teaming up with Kyle Chalmers, William won gold and silver medals in relays at the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest then two golds at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. He also reached the final of the 100m freestyle in Birmingham. 

Everything was on track to make the team for the Paris Olympics – and then he noticed a sharp pain in his back that just kept getting worse. 

The surgery and injury dramas that followed meant that William didn’t really start serious training again until January 2023, but in March he notched a confidence-boosting win over Olympic and world champion Chalmers in the 100m freestyle final at the 2024 NSW State Championships. He also won gold in the 100m backstroke. 

In April 2024 he won silver in the 100m freestyle at the Australian Championships on the Gold Coast, finishing a close second to ‘King Kyle’ in a career-best time of 48.20 seconds. That time would have got William into the 100m freestyle semi-finals at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. 

At the Australian Olympic trials in Brisbane in June, William finished second behind Kyle Chalmers in the 100m freestyle final. His time of 48.08 was outside the Swimming Australia qualifying time, but he will head to Paris as a relay swimmer. 

William admits that since his health scares he approaches his swimming career from a completely different perspective. He’s not taking anything for granted and he’s grabbing every opportunity that comes his way. 

“It made me tougher mentally,” he says. “I just view it as a very positive experience. My perspective just changed a lot after what I went through. 

“I don’t think too much about my times or my performance. I’m just happy to be here.” 

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