Swim champs success

Swim champs success

The SA Country Swimming Championships have been declared a success, after being held at the brand new Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre on the weekend.

And the Mount Gambier pool has produced the goods already – with plenty of records broken and new personal best times set.

One local swimmer even qualified for a national competition at the weekend’s SA Country Swimming Championships.

Mount Gambier Swimming Club competitor Lucy Dening recorded a personal best time of 31.98 seconds in the Under 13 50-metre butterfly, qualifying her to enter the age national competition to be held on the Gold Coast in April.

Club president Nathan Stratford said Wulanda had “produced in its first event”.

“As a club we had over 49 personal bests recorded, including one very special swim which was Lucy Dening, who swam a personal best of 31.98 in her 50 metre butterfly.

“Lucy is our club’s first national swimmer for five years. That is huge for our little club and huge for Lucy and the Denings.”

Blue Lake Y Swim Club competitor Darcy Hodges received the best female swimmer 11 years and under trophy for the meet and the development trophy for best female athlete of the meet, breaking four Country Championships records.

Teammate Thomas Bignell also broke the SA Country Championship record for 18 years and over 50-metre breaststroke.

The event was hosted by the Mount Gambier Swimming Club for the first time in eight years and Stratford said it was enormously successful.

“It went amazingly well, the Mount turned the weather on with consecutive days of sunshine and we had lots of fantastic reports from all the visitors in regards to the facility not just Wulanda itself, but how pretty the town looked and how neat and tidy it was,” he said.

“A lot of the visitors actually stayed a couple of days before and after the competition, just to just to have a bit of a relax as well, which has been great.”

Stratford said the four-day event attracted more than 430 competitors from across country SA and Victoria.

“I think each day we had 600-plus spectators and family and officials come through the gates,” he said.

“I think we averaged about 900 consistently each day through the through the gates.

“We were not able to record the numbers of general public, but from the feedback we got they enjoyed the food village we had set up … and watch the racing for the first time and understand what swimming competitions are all about.

“We worked out the pool is officially a fast pool and we’re excited by that.

“As a club we have claimed it as the greatest country championships ever.”

Stratford said one of the event highlights was the attendance of Olympic swimmer Madi Wilson, who officially opened the competition and was an ambassador.

“She was amazingly gracious with her time spent with the kids for signings, photos and those sorts of things and showing them her medals,” he said.

“Madi then spent 25-30 minutes with our club talking to the kids about her journey.

“Her time spent with those kids has provided real inspiration and a couple of those kids made comments they have never really had a role model before but feel like she would be a great role model.”

Stratford said the club had been overwhelmed by the feedback for not only Wulanda, but the championships.

“We had a lot of great comments, not just about the facility, but also about how the Mount Gambier Swimming Club put it all together and made the event welcoming.

“We had swim clubs that had not been able to compete for nearly two years during COVID and it was one of their first major meets back in the swimming circuit.

“I just loved that fact it was friendly, yes the competition was hot but the overarching part of it was fantastic and people cannot wait to come back.”

Stratford said while next year’s championships location was yet to be announced, the Mount Gambier club had offered to host the 2025 championships.

“One of the highlights, for me, I think genuinely was the swimming itself,” he said.

“To see state-wide competition come back to Mount Gambier after eight years and for it to be such a huge success with support not just from the swimming community but the general community, who were excited.

“There were no complaints they could not use the outdoor pool because they loved the fact they could see this competition and Wulanda being used for its intended purpose.”

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