Friday 21st of March 2014 saw a very excited team of Lower Eyre Peninsula (LEP) swimmers travel to the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre at Marion to contest the Country SAPSASA State Final. Swimmers had been identified based upon their performance at the LEP Primary Schools Championship in November 2013 and selected into the team as a result of having the most competitive personal bests over 50m during the summer racing season. For many of the younger team members this was their first experience racing at the SA Aquatic Centre and the atmosphere was electric with the crowd filled with excited parents, grandparents and swimmers.
Team captains on the day were Kellie Dennis (St Joseph’s School) and Henry Nelligan (Cummins Area School) both year 7’s at their respective schools. The role is an important one as SAPSASA is open to both registered and non-registered swimmers with Swimming SA so a number of the team have plenty of competitive potential but may not have the experience of being marshalled, presenting to the medal ceremony and abiding by warm up and race protocols.
The team was thrilled to better their result from last year, again finishing in second place overall on 232.5 points, narrowly missing the top spot by just 10.5 points (the equivalent of one gold medal) to the team from the Hills. The first events on the schedule were the 50m freestyle heats and the LEP saw a number of swimmers progress through to the finals and medal in their respective age groups. Tasmin Durdin (10yr girls) finished in 5th place in 41.20 seconds. Jasmine Clark (11yr girls) had the perfect race to finish with the gold medal in a personal best time of 36.63 with Larissa Sporer in the same final picking up the 4th placing (37.59). The 12yr boys worked hard to finish in 2nd and 3rd place (Harrison Adams 33.13 and Henry Nelligan 33.86) with India Copland (12yr girls) swimming an excellent time of 31.83 in the final to take out the silver placing. The 13 year old team members medalled in third place – Chris Bawden from Tumby Bay Area School finished in 32.08 and Kellie Denis from St Joseph’s School in 33.83.
50m Breastroke finals saw Lower Eyre Peninsula representatives in every final, in each age group for both males and females. Kyle McInerney (10yr boys) finished in 6th place with a time of 55.91 whilst Sophie Traeger (10yr girls) completed the swim of the day with an incredible 2 second improvement on her heat swim. She finished in first place, in a new personal best performance of 52.55 seconds. In the 11 year old age group Zac Kenny was thrilled to swim two seconds faster than his heat and complete the race in 51.25 seconds to take out 5th place. Jamie Ford (11yr girls) secured the first of three individual medals in her races, being narrowly touched out at the wall resulting in a second placing in 49.55. Kalani Coleman – Smith demonstrated his incredible drive to succeed by swimming a blinder in the 12 year old breastroke (46.99 - gold), to outswim team mate Stuart Mesecke (47.82 - silver) from Navigator College. The boys showed inspiring sportsmanship after the race by shaking hands at the finish, acknowledging the effort that each one had put into the race. India Copland added to her freestyle silver with a confident gold medal performance in the breastroke in a time of 45.01. Chris Bawden (13yr boys) had to battle hard in his final to be narrowly touched out by .07 of a second to receive the silver placing (41.59) whilst Brooklyn George generated more valuable points for the team to finish in 8th place in her final (47.57).
Backstrokers took to the pool next and six competitors went through to the finals. A gold medal went to Jamie Ford (11yr girls) in 42.05 despite a much more impressive heat performance of 40.73, a silver medal went to Tommy Ford (13yr boys) in a time of 37.71 and bronze medals were taken out by India Copland (12yr girls) and Harrison Adams (12yr boys) in times of 39.47 and 41.14 respectively. Sophie Traeger finished in 4th place (10yr girls) in 47.76 and Kellie Dennis (13yr girls) again secured more valuable team points in 8th place (44.16).
The last individual races for the championship were the 50m butterfly events and a familiar set of faces again graced the finals listings and medal podium. Joseph Perin (10yr boys) swam a solid race to finish in 6th position in a time of 1.12.90 whilst Sophie Traeger (10yr girls) also finished in 6th in a time of 54.52. Jamie Ford (11 yr girls) led the field from the moment she entered the water and finished first in 39.57, putting to bed last year’s disqualification in the same event for an incorrect start. Harrison Adams (12yr boys) was ecstatic to finish first in 37.71, relishing the experience of seeing the number 1 pop up next to his name on the electronic score board. This event was the LEP’s second gold / silver combination with team captain Henry Nelligan taking out the silver in 42.87. The 13yr olds held their own with Tommy Ford showing steely determination to finish 2nd in 38.03 and Kellie Dennis in 8th position in 41.18.
SAPSASA also provides the opportunity for SWD (Swimmers with a disability) to compete in the championships. Ellie McInerney (S7) from Navigator College competed in three events recording her best performance in the 50m backstroke to take home a gold medal (1.00.59). Points are allocated to swimmers based on a comparison between their performance and the world record for their particular classification with the swimmer closest being crowned that events champion. Ellie also swam the 100 freestyle and received a silver medal (2.03.39) and the 50 freestyle (57.56) where she received bronze.
The highlight for many of the swimmers is the chance to team up with their swimming mates and contest the 4 x 50 age group team freestyle finals. Medals again came streaming in for the LEP and these events provide key contributions to the overall team point score.
The gorgeous 10yr girls team comprising Lily Nicholls, Lily Perham, Sophie Traeger and Tasmin Durdin were thrilled with their gold medal win, edging out the Hills team by just one second (2.57.09). Tasmin showed great resilience to also join the 11 year old girls team with Jamie Ford, Larissa Sporer and Jasmine Clark who also walked away with the gold in an unbeatable time of 2.38.31. The third team to finish first were the 12 year old boys (Harrison Adams, Henry Nelligan, Kalani Coleman-Smith and Stuart Mesecke) who finished over 10 seconds in front of their nearest rival team in 2.23.09.
Silver medal winning teams were both the boys and girls 13 year old teams. The boys (Tommy Ford, Chris Bawden, Henry Nelligan and Kalani Coleman-Smith) finished their race in 2.20.91 whilst the girls finished in 2.28.62. The final team to bring home a bronze placing were the 12 yr old girls (Moet McCathie, Victoria Henderson, India Copland and Issy Scott) who swam a 2.30.50.
Being involved in the SAPSASA swim team is a significant commitment for Lower Eyre Peninsula families. Many of the swimmers have attended regular before school morning training sessions at the Port Lincoln Leisure Centre and carefully planned their travel to Adelaide to make the most of flight and accommodation specials. The team acknowledges the special contribution made by team managers Andrew Casanova and Sonia Ford together with team coach Carol Veldhuyzen. One of the senior swimmers from the West Coast Swimming Club – Brooke Traeger also put to good use her extensive competition experience by supporting all of the swimmers and teams to correctly marshal prior to their event. The team for 2015 will incorporate swimmers born in 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2002 and selection into a target squad is based on swimmers participation and performance at the Lower Eyre Peninsula Primary Schools Carnival in November 2014. For more information about the activities of the West Coast Swimming Club go to www.westcoastswimmingclub.com
Sonia Ford is our publicity officer and would love to hear of noteworthy news items from our swimming community!