Swimming Gunnedah coach John Hickey was elated at his team’s performance last weekend with five junior state age  medals won by his squad of eight.

Josh Spinks won a silver medal in the 200m medley, with Molly Ramien claiming a bronze in the  11 years 400m freestyle, while rising young star Alexis Whitton (11) was outstanding with three bronze medals in her swag. 

John Hickey said the club had returned its best results from a state championship since he started coaching 4.5 years ago.

“I’m really proud of all the kids – getting eight swimmers there was something to be really proud of and the results speak for themselves,” he said.

“We have kids winning medals, top 10 finishes, eighth in the relay and PBs right across the board. There were club records broken and we also had the largest numbers representing the New England North West zone. 

“Kids who have been training with me over the last four years are now not only breaking records but looking forward to moving from state to nationals.” 

Success came early Saturday morning when Molly Ramien was the club’s first state medallist, winning bronze in the 11 years 400m freestyle event. She smashed the final 100m to chase down the bronze and touch the wall with a 9.75 second personal best time.

Josh Spinks made the podium next with a brilliant swim in the 200m individual medley to claim the silver. He knocked more than 6.64 seconds off his entry time and shattered Jacob Smith’s 2021 Gunnedah club record by eight seconds.

Day two saw three bronze medals for 11-year-old Alexis Whitton. Her first podium finish was in the 200m freestyle where she hit the wall in two minutes and 22 seconds and shaved almost five seconds off her best. She went on to claim bronze in the 200m backstroke with a three-second improvement. 

Alexis left the best for last – after a full race program over two days, in her final race of the 50m freestyle, she shot up the pool in an incredible race to win bronze with a time of 28.82 seconds, clipping almost a second from her personal best time. The speedster was leading at the half-way mark before being narrowly pipped at the finish. 

Alexis, who qualified for 13 races, just missed medals with fourth place in the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle, and finished in the top 10 in the state for the 50m backstroke (6th) and the 200 medley (7th).  She also made the top 15 in the 100m and 200m breaststroke and broke five of her own club records –  the 11 years 50m, 100m and 200m backstroke, 50m freestyle and 200m breaststroke. 

In his other nine races, Josh Spinks never moved out of the top 10 in the state, bagging fifth place in the 50m freestyle and the 100m backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke races with close finishes.

He placed sixth in the 200m freestyle where he chased down his competitors in the final lap to register an improvement of  9.80 seconds. The promising youngster swam into seventh place in the 50m breaststroke and 100m freestyle, eighth in the 50m butterfly and 10th in the 50m backstroke. Josh also shattered his own 200m freestyle Gunnedah club record by nine seconds and broke his 50m freestyle club record.  

Molly Ramien, who qualified for 14 races, won a finalist ribbon with 10th in the 100m backstroke and placed 11th in both the 50m and 100m butterfly with two improved times. She also finished in the top 15 in the 200m Individual medley, 50m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m backstroke.

Senior squad member Baxter Knapman (12) produced a solid effort after qualifying for eight races. He just missed a finalist ribbon twice – placing 11th in the 50m and 100m backstroke where he finished strongly to strip more than three seconds from his best time in the hotly contested 12 years boys division. He finished in the top 15 in the 400m freestyle and 200m backstroke.

Hannah Akinyemi had a great state championships debut in the 10 years division, scoring personal best times in her 50m backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke.  Liam Smith also recorded personal best times in the 50m backstroke, butterfly and freestyle, and Matilda Denovan (11) gained more experience in her 50m breaststroke event. 

The 10-11 years junior girls relay team of Molly Ramien, Eugenie Goddard, Matilda Denovan and Alexis Whitton put in a huge effort to claim eighth place in the state out of 43  teams. Apart from Orange, they were the only country relay side to win a top 10 finalist ribbon after battling it out with teams from Sydney including PLC, Knox Pymble and Warringah. The same relay team is back in Homebush this week competing as part of the St Xavier’s Polding team.

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