A squad of 22 Gunnedah swimmers fleeced the western district of medals and pool records at the Mudgee swimming carnival last weekend.

In a great day of racing, every competitor turned in impressive results, with Jacob Smith shattering a huge club record set on February 2, 1972, by Phillip Hartin, in the 12 years 200m individual medley. 

Jacob registered a time of 2.41.81 in Mudgee, breaking Phillip Hartin’s time of 2:42.20 – the youngster had recorded the faster time of 2:36.32 at nationals in August but as an 11-year-old was unable to claim it.

Dash for Cash is always a highlight with the winner taking home $30. The Gunnedah crew was vocal and supportive in the open SKINS races, where the six fastest girls’ and boys’ times on the day compete. It involves consecutive 50m races where the slowest of each is eliminated after each race. They have one minute to get backstroke to the blocks to do it all again. In the boys’ event, Gunnedah’s Alexander Thompson (15) made the final cut but was eliminated early. In the girls, it came down to Gunnedah’s Tahlia Smith and Audrey Hannaford in the final three for a thrilling race, with Tahlia (14) taking it  out by a whisker, as Audrey finished hot on her heels for  a close third.

Jacob Smith continued his winning form, smashed an incredible 12 Mudgee pool records and collecting 12 gold medals, with strong wins in the 50m and 100m freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and fly, 200m freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and medley. He also claimed victory the 11-12 years Dash for Cash, a silver in the 400m freestyle. Apart from Phillip Hartin’s club record, Jacob also broke his own 200m backstroke and 200m breaststroke club records. 

The club’s tadpoles  form the base of a very promising pool of young swimmers which augers well for the future  – Matilda Ramien (7) won silvers in the 25m fly and backstroke, a bronze in the 25m breaststroke, registering personal best times  in every race including a 14-second improvement in the 100m freestyle. 

Eight-year-old Max Smith picked up silvers in the 50m breaststroke and 50m backstroke, while brothers Rafe (8) and Campbell (6) Denovan had a great day, Rafe won gold in the 50m butterfly, with Campbell winning the 25m fly and backstroke and silver in 25m breaststroke and freestyle.

Molly Ramien had a field day in the 10 years events, smashing six Mudgee pool records in the 50m and 100m backstroke, 50m and 100m freestyle, 50 fly and Dash for Cash. Along the way she broke thee of her own recently set club records. She won the 10 and under 50m freestyle Dash for Cash and eight gold medals, claiming victory in the 50m and 100m freestyle, backstroke and breaststroke, 50m and 200m fly,  silver in the 200m backstroke, medley and freestyle – and nine personal best times.

Also competing in this division, Josh Spinks broke Mudgee pool records in 100m breaststroke and freestyle,  winning gold in the 50m and 100m freestyle, backstroke, fly and breaststroke. Josh also took home the cash in the 10 and under 50m Dash for Cash and a silver in the 200m fly.

Improver Hannah Akinyemi (10) swam solidly into second place in the 50m and 100m fly, third place in the 50m and 100m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 50m and 100m breaststroke, with place in the fast and furious  10 and under Dash for Cash. 

In the 11 years events, Alexis Whitton  broke a Mudgee Pool record in the 50m freestyle, and proved too strong in  the 200m freestyle and medley, 50m and 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke, picking up five bronze along the way – 200m breaststroke and backstroke, 100m backstroke, 50m fly and breaststroke, with an improvement of 5.84 seconds in the 200 medley.

Matilda Denovan (11) recorded an improvement of 8.74 seconds in the 200m medley and another best time in the 200m breaststroke. 

In a packed program, Baxter Knapman took home an impressive 11 silver medals, with close seconds in the 50m and 100m freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, 100m fly and the 200m IM, freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke, with second place in the Dash for Cash. Two bronze also added to his swag, including the last race of the day in the 800m freestyle where 
he did a personal best time and showed great stamina after a big day of racing. 

Cooper Whitton won gold in the 200m fly, after slashing  8.26 seconds from his best, picked up silver in 50m fly and bronze in the 50m and 100m freestyle and backstroke and 200 medley and backstroke, with six personal best times. William Jansen was a big improver in the 12 and under 200m individual medley, clipping 3.35 seconds from his best.

Gareth Rossler (12) won bronze in the 50m and 100m breaststroke where he nailed personal best times, while sister Chelsea (13) won a silver in the 50m breaststroke.

Katie Spinks finished the day with silver in the 50m breaststroke and bronze in the 50m fly. 

Thirteen-year-old Audrey Hannaford had a field day in the 13 years division, with an amazing effort in the Open SKINS event to finish a close third. The speedster finished the carnival with gold in the 50m and 100m fly and backstroke, 50m freestyle and breaststroke and bronze in the 200m freestyle and medley and 100m breaststroke. 

Also in the 13 years events, Danika Jones came third in the 50m fly and just missed a medal for 50m backstroke coming in fourth. She registered an improvement of 2.97 seconds in the 200m medley.

Silver in the 50m breaststroke and backstroke and bronze in the 50m freestyle and fly and 100m breaststroke, resulted in a good day’s racing for Zach Akinyemi, who always gives it his best.

The 14 years division was a happy hunting ground for Tahlia Smith,  winner of the open girls SKINS event. She also swept the pool in the 50m backstroke, fly and freestyle and 100m freestyle, with silver in the 50m breaststroke, 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke. 

Alex Thompson made the final of the open boys SKINS event but was knocked out in the early round. The teenager finished second in the 800m freestyle with an 11 second improvement and nailed bronze and two personal best times in the 50m breaststroke and 50m freestyle.

German exchange student Jule Huhn (16) collected gold in the 200m freestyle and 50m fly, silver in the 200m medley and 50m freestyle. 

Meanwhile, 12-year-old Tahnee Steele flew the flag for Gunnedah at Glen Innes and gave away size to pick up a swag of medals after attending a special swim clinic hosted by star swimmer and Olympic medallist Taylor McKeown, known for her Olympic winning 200m breaststroke at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and silver medal in 4×100 medley relay at the 2016 summer games. 

Taylor talked about her career and training, took questions from swimmers and then hosted a special backstroke clinic going through technique, skills and drills. At the carnival, Tahnee collected gold in the 100m fly, silver in 200m medley and bronze in 100m and 200m backstroke. 

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