DIVING in to a 24 degree pool on a cloudy day is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is a sacrifice four local athletes have made as they prepare to compete at the NSW state swimming championships in Sydney this weekend.
Fourteen-year-olds Sophie Cooper, Josh King and George Jones from Tenterfield High School and nine-year-old Ella Wishart from Sir Henry Parkes Memorial Public School will travel to the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre in Homebush to compete at the annual event.
Sophie will compete in the 100m backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and the 200m freestyle,
Josh will race in the 100m, 200m and the 400m freestyle and George will compete in the 100m breaststroke and backstroke for the first time.
Sophie has been travelling to Sydney for state swimming since year five and said she was looking forward to making the trip again.
“It is a great experience, really fun. I get to meet up with friends and it’s very social as well as being competitive,” she said.
To make it to the state level, all the students had to qualify in the top three at the regional level.
Ella Wishart was the only primary school student from Tenterfield to qualify for state and will make the trip for the 50m freestyle and the 50m butterfly.
“This is the second time for Ella and we’re all very proud of her - she has really put a lot of effort in her training,” her mother Leeza Wishart said.
“She swims six times a week, I feel like we’ve been living at the pool we’re here that much, but she has pushed herself and is really looking forward to the challenge.”
The group’s assistant coach and pool manager Jeff Moss said the swimmers were in good shape despite the weather cooling off.
“They are not going to disgrace themselves down there, that’s for sure,” he said.
“It’s hard for our kids because they are up against guys from much bigger schools with proper facilities. We don’t even havea proper heating system.
“It makes it really hard for us to do the long distances. It varies in the season but earlier they were swimming much greater distances but we’ve had to reduce that a bit because it just gets too cold.”
As the weather has cooled off, the water is lucky to be above 21 degrees in the morning, meaning the group have had to reduce their training to an afternoon, three times a week.
Mr Moss said while a heating system would cost about $7000 with extra costs to run and maintain, he said that the benefits it would provide to the community and to the members of the Tenterfield swim club would offset this.