Swim stars chase national qualifying times at home pool
SWIMMING: They are two of Hervey Bay Swimming Club's rising stars to watch.
Olivia Pearson and Kasey Gamble are two of the club's 29 swimmers to line up on the blocks at the club's Long Course meet, which started with long-distance events at Hervey Bay Aquatic Centre last night.
Gamble, 15, is a freestyle specialist. It's built on the back of comfortability and speed, which she has developed over eight years of competitive swimming.
"I don't know, I enjoy it most and I was always just better at freestyle than other strokes,” Gamble said.
"I started swimming when I was young. It started with little meets but as I grew older I got faster when it came to states and nationals.
"When I was about 11 I started to really enjoy it and wanted to do more. I won a relay medal at state for the first time and I just wanted to keep swimming.”
Gamble counts a national titles meet this year and her time swimming for the Piranhas at the Victorian Short Course Championships last year as her highlights to date.
If you consider her place in Wide Bay's Swimming Queensland Development Squad for 2018-19 - one of only four Fraser Coast swimmers in the squad - and her presence in the Australian Junior Excellence program, Gamble, whose major swimming goal is to make nationals next year, could be one to watch in future, though she is firm in her commitment to the Hervey Bay club.
"This club has such a family environment it just makes you want to keep coming back to swimming,” Gamble said.
"All the parents are supportive, and our coach (Caleb Ryan) is amazing.”
Pearson is just 0.72 seconds outside a national qualifying time for the 100m breaststroke, while Gamble is part of several regional and state development squads.
She was just six-months-old the first time she was in a pool, and has grown a love for swimming in the years since. The 13-year-old counts breaststroke as her strongest stroke, a development she attributes to Ryan's focused tuition.
"It is hard but Caleb makes it a lot easier by making it fun,” Pearson said.
Pearson aims to record a national time in the 100m breaststroke this weekend.
This weekend is Hervey Bay Swimming Club's time to shine, and while a clash with bigger meets will keep several swimmers from the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane away there is still expected to be a large cohort of competitors.
While the wild weather may influence some competitors' arrivals, swimmers have entered from Cooroy, Kingaroy, Cotton Tree, Fairymead, Gympie and Rockhampton, as well as a strong cohort from the Fraser Coast Swim Club.
Ryan said it was an important weekend for the athletes.
"This is the local meet we run every year,” Ryan said.
"For some it's their first long course meet of the year, for others it will be their second.
"The older swimmers can use it as a national qualifying meet for age nationals in April.
"I've got six who are old enough and chasing times between now and March next year. A few are really close to those times so there's a good chance of them getting the times by then.”
Racing will start at 8.30am today. The carnival will go ahead despite the rain, but lightning will force an early end to the competition.