Swimmers aim for nationals
THE window of opportunity is closing on qualifying and nailing the perfect stroke for a spot in the national championships in April.
Rocky City’s Jared O’Hanlon and Maddison Bygrave are feeling the pressure with one of their last meetings to qualify starting tomorrow with Gladstone’s Harbour City Meet.
Despite a high record of success for O’Hanlon, 14, – and it includes two records for breaststroke in August during the Queensland Short Course Championships – he was disappointed with his recent performance at the Queensland State titles in December.
“About 12 months ago Jared made a massive jump at the states and just exploded in his swimming to win a gold medal and a broken record,” his coach, Shane Kingston, said.
“But after we returned from the recent state titles we both agreed that we weren’t happy with the results and he could have done much better than he did.”
Kingston said this weekend’s three-day competition would be a big focus for O’Hanlon as it would act as one of the last chances to qualify for nationals.
“It is really hard to get into nationals because they only take the top 40 swimmers. They don’t want thousands of swimmers down there,” Kingston said.
“What we are trying to do with O’Hanlon is just break through that barrier because he can do it.”
And it’s a similar story for 14-year-old Maddison Bygrave, who didn’t realise her own talent.
“She started off 2009 without qualifying and then she decided she wanted to try and she ended up with three qualifications to nationals,” Kingston said.
“She finished in the top 15 in two of her events and surprised herself – she didn’t realise where she could be.”
Despite Bygrave only being 14 she was competing in the open division, but Kingston said in the world of swimming this wasn’t too unusual.
“Most top swimmers at the moment are around 20-22 mark,” he said.
While the Harbour City meet will be an important meet for O’Hanlon and Bygrave, who hope to secure top times, for other junior swimmers it will be a chance to break into the competitive circuit.
The meet will be the biggest the local swimmers have faced in 2010 with about 250 competitors making the trip from around Queensland.
David Milburn from Caribeae Swimming Club said the meet would have a full spectrum of events and for those not trying to qualify for the nationals. It would also be a chance to qualify for a sprint meeting in two weeks.
“It will be very competitive, there will be swimmers coming up from Bundaberg, Central Queensland and Brisbane,” Millburn said.
“Some will be targeting the major sprint meet in February, but the main focus for many will be to qualify for nationals in early April.”