Sophie strikes national gold in West

Published 4:00pm 1 February 2023

Sophie strikes national gold in West
Words by Nick Crockford

Albany Creek Swimming Club's Sophie Hebron produced a stunning finish to clinch a national title at the Australian Open Water Championships.

Hebron took the Girls’ 14 Years 5km crown with a last-lap surge at Busselton, near Perth, clocking a personal best 1 hour 7 minutes 25.63 seconds.

Coach Brendan Dowling said the 13-year-old waited in the leading pack for three laps, before making her move early in the final 1.25km.

Hebron chased three 15-year-olds, in the combined 14/15 years race and took the 14 years title by just over five seconds, at her first national open water event.

She has also represented Queensland at the Australian School Sport titles and will be chasing more medals at the Australian Age Championships in April.

Club colleagues Jordi McHugh and Cody Robinson were ninth and 19th respectively on their national open water debuts.

Sophie strikes national gold in West
Albany Creek swimmers Jordi McHugh, Sophie Hebron, coach Brendan Dowling and Cody Robinson at Busselton.

Redcliffe Leagues Swimming Club’s (RLSC) Rylee Smith won a bronze medal in her first national open water championships.

In the Girls’ 15 Years 5km - restarted after 200m due to a false start - Smith was in the leading group of three and then in a battle for second.

Having made the with RLSC head coach Wanda Drew, Smith took third in 1 hour 6 minutes 36.25 seconds and earned a place on the podium.

Sophie strikes national gold in West
Redcliffe's Rylee Smith with her bronze medal at the national open water titles.

Grace Swimming had a team of five with coach Josh Duyzer at the national championships returning with three top 10 finishes in 5km races.

Josh Mandryk was seventh in the Boys’ 14 Years event in 1 hour 6 minutes 38.29 seconds, Sam Baker eighth in the 15 Years with 1:05:13.93 and Lily Smith eighth in the Girls’ 18 Years in 1:03:52.25.

USC Spartans’ Bailey Armstrong, who used to train at Burpengary, tied third in the men’s 10km in 1 hour 50 minutes 4.47 seconds – an identical time to Kai Edwards, of Carlile Swimming in NSW.

Grace pictures - click through

Genesis Swimming Club, at Bray Park, took our region’s biggest team to Busselton, with five of the seven at their first open water nationals.

One of the debutants, Lauren Whalley, had the club’s highest finish with fourth in the Girls’ 17 Years 5km in 1 hours 2 minutes 43.07 seconds.

Fellow debutant Robert Solterman also made the top 10, finishing seventh in the Boys’ 19 Years km in 1:00:14.65.

With coach Rick Pendleton supporting the squad, Genesis’ open relay team - Solterman, Jabobus Leibenberg, Mia Ogilvie-Swan and Mia Taylor (the last three also at their first open water nationals) - finished ninth.

Sophie strikes national gold in West
Genesis swimmers and coach Rick Pendleton at the 2023 Australian Open Water Championships

Albany Creek Swimming Club:

Cody Robinson (15) - Boys’ 15 Years 5km 19th 1:08:41.83

Sophie Hebron (14) - Girls’ 14 Years 5km 1st 1:07:25.63

Jordi McHugh (14) - Girls’ 14 Years 5km 9th 1:11:19.33

Genesis Swimming Club:

Olivia Gittings (17) - Girls’ 17 Years 7.5km 20th 1:53:10.91; 5km 35th 1:13:28.41

Sommer Smith (17) - Girls’ 17 Years 7.5km 18th 1:51:29.51; 5km 20th 1:07:15.86

Jacobus Liebenberg (17) - Boys’ 17 Years 5km 19th 1:02:18.88

Robert Solterman (19) - Boys’ 19 Years 5km 7th 1:00:14.65

Mia Taylor (16) - Girls’ 16 Years 5km 17th 1:07:15.92

Lauren Whalley (17) - Girls’ 17 Years 5km 4th 1:02:43.07

Mia Ogilvie-Swan (16) – Girls’ 16 Years 5km 24th 1:10:50.20

Mixed 4x1500m Freestyle Relay – Genesis A (Solterman, Liebenberg, Ogilvie-Swan, Taylor) 10th 1:16:51.04

Grace Swimming:

Alia Shaw (15) - Girls’ 15 Years 5km 18th 1:10:47.05

Sam Baker (15) - Boys’ 15 Years 5km 8th 1:05:13.93

Joshua Mandryk (14) - Boys’ 14 Years 5km 7th 1:06:38.29

Samantha Brown (15) - Girls 15 Years 5km 39th 1:19:09.19

Lily Smith (18) - Girls’ 18 Years 5km 8th 1:03:52.25

Redcliffe Leagues Swimming Club:

Rylee Smith (15) - Girls’ 15 Years 5km 3rd 1:06:36.25

USC Spartans:

Bailey Armstrong (24) - Men’s Open 10km 3rd equal 1:50:04.47

Madisyn Armstrong (23) - Women’s Open 10km 7th 2:05:58.06


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