FOLLOWING on from strong performances at the SA Country Championships in Broken Hill, a number of West Coast swimmers headed to the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre in Marion to contest the 2018 State Long Course Age Championships from January 16 to 21. The championships are open to interstate and international competitors and there were large teams from Victoria and the Northern Territory present along with individuals from all other Australian states. The championships are hosted over 6 days, which allowed for morning seeded heats to then decided the ten age group finalists in each event. Finals are run in the evening with interstate visitors allocated a maximum of two finals berths. Two reserves are also named to compensate for any late withdrawals.
Bryce Hammond, 11, was the star West Coast performer, at his third championship event over the past six weeks. Bryce completed the meet with the highest South Australian point score for his age group, beaten only by a very strong competitor from Sunraysia Swimming Club in Victoria on overall points. Points are allocated on a scale of 10 to one, with 10 points being allocated to the gold medal placing through to one point for 10th position. His persistence, sportsmanship and determination throughout the competition was an inspiration.Bryce fought hard to be named South Australian age group champion in the 11 and under 100m backstroke, which he completed in a personal best time of 1.16.82. He also blitzed the field in the 100m butterfly to secure the gold medal in a time of 1.11.68. Bryce added to his medal haul with silver in the 50m butterfly (32.54), 50m freestyle (30.15), 100m freestyle (1.07.96) and 50m backstroke (35.65 seconds). He also secured bronze in the 200m individual medley (2.49.52). Many of these performances were significant improvements from his initial ranking going into each final. All in all, Bryce took home seven medals together with personal best swims in every race.
Arjay Isle (12 years) raced extremely well, making strong improvements and building on his Country Championships performances. His most competitive results were in the 100m and 200m backstroke events where after morning heat swims of 1.21.51 and 2.51.64 respectively, he was called back as second reserve and ninth placed qualifier into the finals. Arjay was thrilled with a number of personal best freestyle swims clocking 32.55 in his 50m freestyle, 1.12.51 in his 100m freestyle and 2.39.00 in his 200m freestyle. All of these times ranked well on the Swimming Australia Junior Excellence schedule of qualification standards, edging close to silver level times.
Max Rogalski (14 years) continues to show strong potential in breastroke and works hard to make minor adjustments to his technique in order to shave off time from his previous best. He was invited back into finals for all three breastroke distances finishing in a 35.62 for his 50m race (fifth overall), 1.19.44 for the 100m event (eighth place overall) and 3.00.33 in the 200m race (ninth overall). Max is able to develop strong, encouraging relationships with his competitors and is especially enthusiastic when another country competitor is able to generate a personal best performance.
His exceptional sportsmanship and team spirit is always a highlight. Max also swam an excellent 50m butterfly to take almost two seconds off his previous best (31.90).
Jamie Ford (14 years) raced well, however competition fatigue had definitely set in during her third event this month. She posted two personal best times during the championships - one being in the 200m freestyle (2.26.52) and the other being in the 200m backstroke (2.49.45). Her most competitive performance was in the 50m butterfly, narrowly missing a finals place by less than 0.3 of a second.
West Coast swimmers are looking forward to participating in the Tunarama long swim this weekend and the countdown is also on to the Queen’s Baton Relay where four team members (Bryce Hammond, Max Rogalski and Kylie and Dana Hurrell) all have the honour of carrying the torch in either Port Lincoln or Coffin Bay. All swimmers are on a week-long training break in readiness for the 10-week build up to the Secondary School Sport South Australia and SAPSASA events scheduled for March in Adelaide.
Author - Sonia Ford
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