Swimming Gunnedah played host to 43 visiting clubs which attended the NSW Country Regional Swimming Championships across the weekend.

About 300 of the best swimmers from the New England, Northwest, Central West, North Coast, the Hunter and as far away as the Lower Blue Mountains converged on Gunnedah for the titles which were contested across two days at the memorial pool.

Swimming Gunnedah fielded a squad of 40 swimmers who turned in their best times and smashed pool and club records, with 11 youngsters registering NSW Country qualifying times.

Gunnedah swimmers bagged 30 gold medals, 23 silver and 19 bronze, with rising young stars Jacob Smith (11) and Molly Ramien (9) making a clean sweep of their events.

A NSW Country medallist last year, Jacob Smith continued his good form. He won 13 gold medals from 13 races, shattering pool and club records along the way as club officials watched in amazement. The talented young gun competed across all distances, winning gold in the 11-years 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke, 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly, as well as the 200m individual medley. 

Molly Ramien continued her record-breaking form by winning eight gold medals from eight events in the nine-years 50m and 100m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke, 50m and 100m backstroke and 50m and 100m butterfly, breaking the Gunnedah club record in the 100m fly and 100m backstroke – both set in 2010. 

Molly went on to eclipse her own 50m pool records in freestyle, breaststroke and backstroke and was also presented with an Australian representative cap donated by national champion Jamie Bayliss as an encouragement award after the carnival. 

Alexis Whitton had a fantastic meet in the 10-years division, breaking two pool records in the 50m freestyle and 50m breaststroke, where she won gold, adding another four gold medals to her bounty with wins in the 100m freestyle, 50m and 100m butterfly, 100m backstroke, and silver in the 100m breaststroke.

After a hugely successful meet in Nyngan, Josh Spinks kept up his good form in the nine-years-and-under boys division, collecting gold in the 50m freestyle where he set a new pool record and the 50m butterfly. He won silver in the 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke, and the 100m butterfly where he improved by a massive 16.83 seconds. 
Liam Smith collected bronze medals in the nine-years 100m backstroke and breaststroke, while tadpoles Jimmy Loveridge (6), Rafe Denovan (7) and Nicholas Swain (8), all showed improvement in the 50m freestyle.

Nine-year-old Hannah Akinyemi turned in a powerful finish to win silver in the 100m breaststroke and bronze in the 50m event, while Josie Knapman showed great form in her 50m breaststroke, collecting a silver medal. Alexis Campbell’s best performance came in the 50m freestyle, while clubmate Olivia Lyons recorded four huge personal best times.

It was another successful carnival for competitor Matilda Denovan, who claimed silver in the 10-years 50m freestyle, 50m and 100m backstroke and 100m butterfly. She also won bronze in the 100m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke, while team mate Sienna Swain showed form in the 50m freestyle and 100m backstroke.

Eugenie Goddard, also 10, picked up three bronze medals, with a great effort in the 50m freestyle and 50m and 100m butterfly, and showed a big improvement in the 100m backstroke with a 4.02-second PB.

In the 11-years boys’ division, Baxter Knapman continued his excellent run, winning silver in the 50m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m freestyle, 50m and 100m breaststroke and the individual medley with a time improvement of 6.67 seconds. He also won bronze in the 50m backstroke. 

Cooper Whitton’s hard work at training in backstroke paid off as he secured a silver medal in the 11-years 50m event after nailing a personal best time, while William Jansen improved his times in three races.

In the 12 years girls’ division, Audrey Hannaford enjoyed a successful meet as she registered four personal best times and a strong performance in the 50m backstroke, while Tahni Bush (12) recorded five personal best times and Dana Campbell showed great form in the 12-years 50m breaststroke event.

Clubmate Danika Jones won gold in the 11-years-and-over 400m freestyle, while Katie Spinks and Shiloh Moore both improved in their 12-years breaststroke races.

In the 12-years boys’ division, Zach Akinyemi claimed a bronze medal in the 200m individual medley after slashing 6.38 seconds off his personal best time, while clubmate Lachie Gurney recorded some big gains in the 100m breaststroke and freestyle. 

Thirteen-year-old Tahlia Smith added two silvers to her medal tally, with strong swims in the 100m and 200m backstroke, as well as bronze medals in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle, 50m backstroke, and 200m individual medley.

In the 13-years boys, Lachlan Davey stripped a massive 31.82 seconds from his 100m butterfly time, while Angus Hobson showed good form, by scoring six personal best times out of eight races – his best coming in the 50m butterfly.

Savannah Lyons showed promise with her best race in the  14-years 100m breaststroke event, while Scout Newbery, also 14, had a packed program with nine races, collecting silver in her last race of the day – the 200m backstroke. 

Alex Thompson had an outstanding meet in the 14-years boys’ events, clocking six personal best times in all six races, with his best coming in the 50m freestyle where he stopped the clock at 28.79 seconds to win bronze. 

He took home another bronze in the 100m freestyle and picked up silver in the 200m freestyle with a significant improvement of 6.85 seconds.

It was a memorable carnival for the popular Brooke Rennick  (17), who is retiring from competitive swimming after many successful years with the club. Brooke has always been a great mentor for the club’s tadpoles and will be missed at carnivals. 

Her younger brother Jedd Rennick had a competitive meet in the tough 15-years division and was pleased with his personal best time in the fast-and-furious 50m butterfly.

Brother and sister duo Chelsea and Gareth Rossler, who travel from Coonabarabran for training, did their best times in the 50m breaststroke, while the three Mainey brothers enjoyed another successful carnival, with six-year-old Lewis, nine-year-old Charlie and 10-year-old Darcy all recording some personal best times. 

The regional meets were held across three locations over the weekend with events at Singleton and Griffith, while the spin-off to the wider community through accommodation and food outlets is beneficial. 

Gunnedah will now host the New England North West Area Champs at the memorial pool on February 5-6. Swimming Gunnedah coach John Hickey is now preparing his squad for the area championships and NSW Country Championships in February.

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