“The Country Championships are always a lot of fun. Country clubs look forward
The 2013 Country Swimming Championships were hosted by the Gawler Amateur Swimming Club from the 11th - 14th of January with the host club also celebrating its 50th birthday. 24 clubs from around the state fielded teams who were joined by travelling interstate country swimmers. 38 very excited competitors and their families travelled from the West Coast Swimming Club to take part in what is the club's most significant competition of the year. The squad was joined by the Lynch family of Ceduna - who fielded three swimmers for the competition.
Friday commenced with the Superfish Session, seeing young swimmers from across the state enjoy a sunny morning of racing. The atmosphere was electrifying with older club members cheering on their upcoming stars and providing them with encouragement and support. First swimmer to hit the water was 8 year old Sophie Traeger completing her 50m freestyle in 47.20. Jasmine Clark set the scene for a flurry of personal best swims, reaching the end of the pool in 41.23 seconds. This was quickly followed up a sensational swim by Harrison Adams smashing his previous best to record a 36.33 (Junior Excellence - Bronze). In the lead up to SAPSASA he will be striving to shave off the .33 of a second to go under a 36 making the first of his Junior Excellence - Silver level times. Kalani Coleman - Smith and Henry Nelligan (40.92 and 38.44 respectively) competed in the same heat also finishing in personal best times, exciting the rest of the team's imagination as to what could be expected over the following 4 days. Ania Constantinopoulos held a very competitive time in her freestyle race of 39.51 whilst team mates Brooklyn George (45.60) and Megan Stephens (45.58) managed to shave around a second of previous bests. All Superfish swimmers are usually yet to achieve Country Qualification Standards and have the chance to compete in each stroke over a distance of 50m. Fantastic improvers in the breastroke were Emma Hamnett (54.77), Henry Nelligan (55.06), Isabella Scott (56.70), Kalani Coleman - Smith (54.65) and Tommy Ford (51.55) - who smashed his previous best by 6 seconds! To finish the session West Coast butterfliers pulled a string of superb times. Congratulations to Sophie Traeger (1.03.51) - 6 second PB, Jasmine Clark (1.00.91) - 11 second PB, Kalani Coleman - Smith (1.03.43) - 4 second PB and Isabella Scott (55.44) - 1 second PB. Racing down the pool like they had a train to catch were the unstoppable Harrison Adams (43.98) - 8 second PB, a very fit Xanthia Clark (42.75) - 8 second PB and the ever determined Kieren Stephens (43.13) - 5 second PB.
The excitement continued through the first session of heats and Multiclass finals. First medals of the meet went to Jade Calverley (silver) and Ellie McInerney (bronze) in the 50m Multiclass backstroke with both swimmers looking strong and confident in the water. All swimmers were on deck to witness the opening ceremony with the national anthem sung by local Xavier College student, Alex Rawlings. As always the Club March On was a highlight for many swimmers, with clubs dressing up for the occasion and wearing their team colours with pride.
It was an exciting end to the first day, with the first of a never ending stream of medals being awarded to West Coast Swimmers following some breathtaking performances in the finals sessions. The first of an incredible 18 individual medals awarded to Levi Proude was a silver medal swim in the Open 200m Freestyle which he completed in a time of 2.06.25. Luke Andrews placed third in the 14 - 15 200m Freestyle (2.20.99) and Brooke Traeger secured the silver in the 13&U event in 2.27.00. Next on the program was the finals of the 50m backstroke with a number of swimmers medalling in their age group events : Brooke Traeger - silver (37.38), Henry Lambert - silver (33.90), Bri Veldheuyzen - bronze (39.11) and the first gold medal of the event to Luke Andrews who blitzed the backstroke in 32.61 seconds.
Day 2 commenced with a significant change in the weather - from 36 degrees on the first day of racing to half an inch of rain to begin the second. Swimmers were not phased and commenced warms ups for the morning's heats at 7.15am. The club didn't have to wait long to add to the 9 medals awarded from day 1 with Jade Calverley leading a confident gold medal victory in the 100m Multiclass breastroke (2.32.21). She followed this with silver in the 50m freestyle (52.04) and 100m backstroke (2.24.90). Ellie McInerney swam beautifully in her 100m backstroke to take the third West Coast gold for the meet in 2.11.60.
Heading up the evening's program was the rockstar event - the 200m butterfly which can scare off even the most confident of swimmers. Congratulations to 13 year old Brooke Traeger who placed 4th in the open final (2.48.93). The event was won by an Onkaparinga Swimmer who is an inspiring 48 years young! The entertainment jumped up a notch with Levi and Luke going head to head in the 100m Open Breastroke - Luke(1.13.12) edging out Levi (1.13.82) to take the gold medal. Both swimmers followed this with gold in their age group events. To finish the breastroke, James Andrews earned his first award of the competition with silver in the 12/13 years age group (1.26.15). Fast and furious freestyle over 50 metres was next with Brooke Traeger (30.64) and Natasha Hammond (30.69) slamming into the wall 1,2 in their age event. The open men's saw Levi flanked by the Gawler big guns to be touched out for silver (25.44) with a great swim by Henry Lambert (27.73) who at 14 years held his ground against much older competitors. Henry went on to achieve silver in his age event. Nick Constantinopoulos (13 yrs) swam a sensational race, recording a personal best (30.44) for the bronze and is chipping away at breaking the 30 second barrier. The program continued with the 100m backstroke events with Levi (1.08.14) and Brooke (1.21.63) again adding to their medal tally. Relay events are always a highlight of the meet with plenty of team members on hand to scream and cheer from pool side. The Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay saw a third placing with Gerard Meyer stepping into the team and they went one better in the Medley with the addition of James Andrews to add a silver to the teams tally.
The momentum continued to build into the teams third day of racing. Early morning coffee runs by parents were down to a fine art and Team Coach - Carol Veldhuyzen together with Team Manager Damien Lambert continuing to strategise and support swimmers as they entered that point of the meet where stamina and fitness come to the fore. With the medal tally now at 25 individual and 2 teams, swimmers were eager to hit the water. A new Country Allcomers and Country Championship Record was set in the first race from the evenings finals card with Luke Andrews gliding to the gold medal position in a time of 2.42.42 over the 200m breastroke. Brooke Traeger again maintained her status as 50m Butterfly champion for her age group finishing in 33.02 and Levi was awarded medals 7 and 8 for the meet being bronze in the open 50m butterfly event (27.68) and gold in his age group to set a new Championship and Allcomers Country Record. Henry Lambert's fitness showed with a superb 50m fly (31.75) placing in second along with Luke Andrews (30.51) in the 15 year old event. Following the fly was the 200m Individual Medley with Brooke, Levi, Luke all medalling again. Past West Coast Swimmer Bailey Harriden who now swims for Bendigo Hawks in Victoria smashed out a cleverly strategised 200 IM in 2.37.25 to snare the gold medal from two close rivals from the Whyalla Swim Team.
To complete day 3 the team were in fine form with parents and friends falling over each other cheering the swimmers on in the 4 x 50m freestyle events. Almost every final on offer had a qualifying West Coast Team with both the Under 14 and Under 16 Freestyle mens teams winning gold in convincing style. Congratulations Nik Constantinopoulos, Tyson Lynch, Coen George, James Andrews, Henry Lambert, Luke Andrews, Gerard Meyer and Levi Proude.
With the final day of the Championships to go, the West Coast team now had 39 Individual and 8 Team medals under their belt. Still on a high from the previous days achievements the swimmers pulled themselves together mentally to endure a fourth day of intense competition. Jade Calverley equalled her medal haul from last year's Country Championships with gold in the 50m Multiclass breastroke event (1.07.37) and then went one better to achieve silver in the 100m freestyle (1.58.83). Lily Ness showed her style in the women's 50m breastroke with bronze (43.25) and Luke Andrews was nipped at the wall by his nemesis Sam Stanton (Gawler) in the open 50m breastroke (33.63) followed very closely by Levi (33.75) - both these swimmers were under the previous championship record time. A series of 'doubles' on the podium lifted the team's energy levels with James Andrews and Tyson Lynch medalling in the 13 year event and Luke Andrews and Gerard Meyer in the 15 yr event. More records tumbled with Luke and Levi rewriting the record books for their age group 50m breastroke swims, Luke (33.05) swam faster than the open final and snatched Levi's previous age record set last year in Port Pirie. The tempo continued to build with the 100m freestyle events and the same faces rushed between swims and medal presentations - Congratulations Brooke Traeger (gold - 1.06.76), Levi Proude (double gold - 55.17, 56.33) and Luke Andrews (bronze - 1.00.00).
The uphill run to the finish of the carnival was very trying but swimmers continued to give it their all. Brooke Traeger showing her dominance in the butterfly (silver in the open - 1.16.81 and gold in her age 1.13.86), Levi astouded the team with his medal tally (medal 17 - silver in the open 1.03.86, medal 18 - gold in age). 11 year old Tommy Ford showed strength to record personal bests in both his heat and final swim for the 100m butterfly which now stands at 1.45.49. The team events were a great opportunity for the team to pool their talent and the girls 12 and under Medley event saw a bronze for Demi and Adele Lynch (Ceduna), Alleigh Hamnett and Kellie Dennis. One better in silver were the 18 years and under women - and a great celebration was had by the unstoppable Bri Veldhuyzen. Sheridan Howell, Annabel Nelligan and Lily Ness. The Under 14 and 16 boys were on fire after dominating their 4 x 50 freestyle and repeated their wins in the Medley event. A fitting finish to the event was a magnificent win by the Men's 4 x 50m freestyle relay team from Gawler who in the club's 50th year knocked off a championship record which has stood for 10 years with a convincing win from the West Coast team. With youth on our side and only 5 seconds to make up this record could well come home to Port Lincoln at next year's Country Championships to be held in Murray Bridge.
The efforts and team spirit of other swimmers who are to be congratulated for making Country Championship finals are : Harrison Adams, Tommy Ford, Xanthia Clark, Yemaya Coleman-Smith and Kendall Howell. All of these finals swims added valuable team points placing the West Coast Swimming Team in third place overall to Onkaparinga and Whyalla (first and second respectively). Last year's medal count was well and truly surpassed with an incredible 58 individual and 12 team awards. On behalf of the swimmers, our gratitude and thanks to all of our coaches, commitee members, parents, friends and sponsors who made these Championships an incredible experience for the children who have chosen swimming as their competitive sport.
Sonia Ford is our publicity officer and would love to hear of noteworthy news items from our swimming community!