Swim club makes splash

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Swim club makes splash

AMount Gambier sporting club has received a prestigious award at the Sport SA Awards.

The Mount Gambier Swimming Club was awarded Community Event of the Year at the Sport SA Awards on Friday evening.

The club was a finalist in the Sport SA Event of the Year for the SA Country Swimming Championships held in January 2023, and was one of only three finalists across all sports in South Australia.

Club president Lauren Oxlade said it was an honour to be recognised at such a high level, and to win was a definite bonus.

“On the night, we found out the judging panel could not decide between us and LIV Golf, so they split the Event of the Year award into community event and major event,” she said.

“The criteria for the Event of the Year includes the impact and benefits for the community, as well as the extent, impact, and significance of the contribution to the event to SA sport.

“Above all, it has to set itself apart from other events through its high standard of organisation and its resounding success.

“The other finalists were Gymnastics SA for their Junior State Championships and Grange Golf Club for LIV Golf.”

The SA Country Swimming Championships were the first event and the unofficial opening of Mount Gambier’s Wulanda Recreation and Convention Centre, held only 16 days after it opened.

Oxlade said the championships attracted more than 430 swimmers from SA, Victoria, Qld and NSW, as well as support crew and spectators, and estimated the four-day event brought more than $1m to the local economy.

“The opening night … saw the rare occurrence of swimmers competing concurrently in the 50m outdoor pool, as well as the 25m indoor pool, while Olympic medallist Madi Wilson spoke to swimmers and invited guests about her journey to success,” she said.

“As a brand new facility, there were many unknowns, such as availability of power, a lack of shade, need for a sound system, managing access and community expectations.

“The most significant risk was committing to and planning for an event 18 months out, at a facility that was not even finished yet.

“It took courage from the small but dedicated committee, as well as commitment and belief from our sponsors to sign up without a guaranteed venue and we are so grateful.”

Oxlade said following the success of the 2023 event, the club has made a bid to host the Country Championships again in 2025.

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