Nine students from Genesis Aquatics are headed to Adelaide for the Australian Age Swimming Championships and the Australian Para Swimming Championships.
Most of the team – including coach and Paralympic gold medallist Rick Pendleton - has beaten bouts of COVID in the lead-up to the championships.
Making the cut for the age championships are Makenzie Sharpe, Margot Dawson, Kaelah Bourke, Isabella Young, Lauren Whalley, Ellen Gittins and Sammy McGrath.
On the para squad are Landon Smith and Kirralee Hayes, who made her international debut at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
Sammy will compete in the 400m freestyle and Kirralee the 50m freestyle multiclass, while Year 8 student Makenzie, who will compete in the 50m and 100m freestyle events, is thrilled to be on the team having only taken up swimming competitively two years ago.
“I was a gymnast for five years but I just didn’t enjoy it any more, so I took up swimming,” she says.
Margot has signed up for the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, as well as the 50m and 100m freestyle relays.
The Year 11 student has been competing for six years and this year will be her second time at the age championships after a hiatus thanks to COVID-19.
“I like the people I meet and the experience of it all,” she says.
Kaela’s been competing for eight years and will take to the water at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre in the 50m freestyle, as well as the 50m and 100m freestyle relays.
She says Queensland swimmer Shayna Jack, who returned to competitive swimming after being accused of ingesting a banned substance, is her inspiration.
“I like her because of her comeback and positivity,” Kaela says.
Isabella, in Year 10, has been swimming competitively for five years and will hit the pool for the 50m and 100m freestyle relays.
“I like training and hanging out with my school friends and it’s my favourite sport - this will be my second nationals.”
Fellow Year 10 student Lauren has six events ahead of her in Adelaide – the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, 100m backstroke and 200m Individual Medley.
“My favourite is the 200 free,” she says.
“I love the atmosphere of the nationals and spending time with people I don’t really see very often.
“I really admire Ariarne Titmus – she’s very courageous and tries her best no matter what.”
Landon, a newcomer to Genesis Aquatics having moved from NSW at the end of last year, will contest eight events in the S14 category.
He’ll be in the pool for the 50m freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke, the 100m freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke and the 200m butterfly.
“My favourites are probably the 50s in backstroke and butterfly,” he says.
“They’re pretty quick – I’m just going to go out there very fast.”
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