Eights swimmers from the Blue Mountains will travel to Brisbane for the upcoming Australian Swimming Championships, finishing on April 23.
For some of these swimmers like Springwood Swimming Club's Rio Paralympian Jenna Jones (16) and Glenbrook Swimming Club’s Zach Konstantinoff (15) and Kelsey Otto (15), having previous experience at nationals will help ease the nerves. But for first time qualifiers, Connor Ogden (15), Ella Jones (16), Daniel (14) and Levi Jones (11), all representing Springwood, along with Haig Buckingham (12), Katoomba's only qualifier, it will be their first opportunity to experience national competition.
The Hancock Prospecting Australian Swimming Championships took place from April 9-13 and acted as the trials for the Australian Dolphins to secure their place on international teams. Springwood swimmer and Australian Dolphins team member Jenna Jones competed in 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 100 backstroke as an S13 classified multi-class swimmer.
For Ella, Daniel, Levi, Connor and Haig, the 2017 Georgina Hope Foundation Australian Age Swimming Championships from April 16-23 will be their first taste of national competition. Ella Jones will compete in 50 backstroke, 100 backstroke, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle as an S10 classified swimmer. Also relatively new to the pool, Levi Jones will compete in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 50 butterfly and 50 backstroke in the S13 vision impaired classification. Daniel, who recently returned to swimming has made outstanding progress in the pool over the summer and will compete in 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 50 backstroke in the S14 classification. There is a lot of excitement at Springwood Swimming Club as four out of four of their athletes with a disability qualified for nationals.
“We have had amazing support from our Swimmer with a Disability Representative and Australian Multi-Class Development Squad Coach Nick Robinson, who has helped our multi-class swimmers navigate the classification system and encouraged the swimmers over the summer season. We are very grateful for his support,” a club spokesperson said.
Connor Ogden is the fifth Springwood swimmer heading to nationals. He will compete in the 15yrs 200 breastroke after dropping 17 seconds off his time over the past 12 months, and will be joined by another newcomer to nationals, Haig Buckingham from Katoomba Swimming Club. After competing at School Sport Australia Swimming Championships last September, 12-year-old Haig will compete in 12/13yrs 100 breastroke at his first Australian Age Championships.
“It’s exciting to see Haig qualify for national age. Katoomba RSL Swimming Club wish him all the best in Brisbane,” a club spokesperson said.
Connor and Haig will be joined by two Glenbrook swimmers. Kelsey Otto will compete in 15yrs 100 breastroke and 15yrs 200 breastroke, while Zach Konstantinoff will compete in 15yrs 100 breastroke.
MountainSwim head coach Corin Dobson said it’s not an easy feat to qualify for age championships
“Swimmers from the Mountains have worked very hard to qualify for this level of swimming. Our team of coaches wish them all good luck in their events at national age, and we believe they will represent their clubs with the continuing effort they have shown throughout the season.”
Kaz Suzuki, MountainSwim coach will travel to Brisbane to watch his swimmers compete.
Glenbrook swimmer Zach Konstantinoff had a few words to offer before the team headed to Brisbane.
“I want to say a huge thankyou to our performance squad coach Kaz, for all his assistance and dedication. I’m looking forward to competing against Australia’s best swimmers, with the aim of swimming my personal best.”