Faulconbridge swimmer Jenna Jones the star of the pool

Jenna Jones in action. Photo: Swimming Australia Ltd
Jenna Jones in action. Photo: Swimming Australia Ltd
Jenna Jones with her age championship medals around her neck, and holding the silver she won at the national titles.

Jenna Jones with her age championship medals around her neck, and holding the silver she won at the national titles.

Six gold and three silver medals: that was the haul Faulconbridge teenager Jenna Jones collected at the Australian Age swimming championships held in Homebush last week.

It made up for a more disappointing performance the previous week, at the national open titles, where, despite illness, Jenna still picked up a silver medal in the 50 metre breaststroke.

The 14-year-old also broke nine Australian and 10 state records at the age championships in her S13 class (for vision impaired swimmers).

It was a performance that far exceeded her expectations.

"I didn't expect to do that well," she said, "Last year, I got two silver and two bronze. It feels even better because I went really bad at the opens."

Jenna, a Year 8 student at St Columba's, has a condition called rod-cone dystrophy which affects her eyesight. When she swims, tappers at each end of the pool alert her that she is approaching the wall.

She was diagnosed when she was in kindergarten, said her mother, Therese.

"When Jenna was diagnosed we decided we would throw everything at her, all sports. But as her eyes deteriorated, we thought it would be safer in the pool," Mrs Jones said.

She has been swimming for about six years but it has been only in the past 12 months that her times have improved significantly.

Jenna puts it down to her new coach, Nick Robinson.

"He pushes me hard," she said, recalling the nine swimming sessions and two gym workouts she does each week.

Mrs Jones said before Mr Robinson took her on, Jenna had been struggling to perform because the wash and waves created by other swimmers in her lane exacerbated the vertigo she suffers because of her vision problems.

"Nick saw her and said I can help," Mrs Jones said. "He put her in a lane by herself. It's helped her no end."

Jenna is on Swimming Australia's Road to Rio team (for the 2016 Paralympics) but realistically she's aiming for the 2020 Toyko Paralympics, when she'll be 19 years old.

In the meantime, the swimming calendar is full, starting with an all schools event at the Homebush Aquatic Centre next month. A good performance will see Jenna at the Pan pacific School Games in Adelaide later this year.

n Springwood's Matthew Wilson also swam at the age championships, where he broke the Australian Age record again in the 200m breaststroke, becoming the first Australian 16-year-old to ever go under 2:13 (he got 2:12:83). He ended up with four golds, a silver and a bronze.

Wilson was selected for the Junior Australian Dolphins team to compete at the World Junior Swimming Championships in Singapore in August.

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