Gunnedah’s rising young swimmers won 148 medals, including 77 gold, at the club’s annual short-course carnival held on Sunday at the indoor heated pool.

The event attracted swimmers from as far away as Newcastle and was a first hit-out for many of Gunnedah’s junior swimmers who are already showing promise.

The carnival began with a special tribute to former Gunnedah swimming club coach Glen Hobson who passed away in June. A minute’s silence was held for the much-loved and well-respected coach and life member, who gave many years of service and mentorship to swimmers and the Gunnedah club and district.

Josh Spinks (11) and Baxter Knapman (13) led the medal charge with Josh picking up 12 gold, while Baxter claimed 10 gold in a clean sweep of events. Josh, who recently won three gold at the NSW Country short-course championships, clipped 23 seconds off his 400m freestyle time and picked up two silver medals as well, while Baxter’s best race came in his 100m butterfly where he shaved more than five seconds off his personal best.

Audrey Hannaford blitzed her opposition to collect nine gold from nine races. She posted eight personal best times and was off to a flying start in the 400m freestyle to improve by 4.85 seconds before taking more than seven seconds off her 200m individual medley entry time. The 13-year-old powered to the wall first in the 100m backstroke in a tight tussle with club mates Alexis Whitton and Molly Ramien, shattering the 13-14 years club record held by Penny Stove since 2001, in a blistering time of 1:12.31. Molly (11) grabbed seven gold on the day, including first in the 200m individual medley where she slashed more than two seconds from her entry time and broke her own 11 years girls short-course club record, going on to break her own club records in the 200m backstroke, 100m breaststroke and 50m butterfly, also picking up three silver medals. School-based Nationals team-mate Alexis Whitton (12) claimed five gold, with a strong win in the 50m freestyle where she flew to the wall in 28.17 seconds and broke her own club record. She also claimed her own record in the 100m backstroke with a personal best time, while picking up silver in the 50m butterfly.

Up-and-coming speedster Cameron Sills (9) showed the opposition his talent to win nine gold, one silver and a big improvement in the 100m backstroke, while Hannah Akinyemi collected seven gold and two silver. Brother Zach (13) came away with a gold, four silver and a bronze.

One of the best races of the day came in the 200m breaststroke where it was neck and neck between Katie Spinks (13) and Eugenie Goddard (12). The duo showed plenty of grit and determination during what was an exciting event, with Katie touching the wall first by a fingernail. She also took home five silver medals. Eugenie put in a solid effort in the gruelling 200m butterfly to claim the gold and knock close to 20 seconds off her entry time. She also picked up another two gold, a silver and a bronze. Also in the 12 years division, Matilda Denovan showed form in the 100m backstroke to improve by more than six seconds and win five silver and two bronze medals.

A huge improver at the meet was Will Jansen (13) who posted nine personal best times and won gold in the 200m individual medley with an improvement of 19.13 seconds. Gold came in the 100m breaststroke as well along with five silver and three bronze. Will also eclipsed his best time in the 200m freestyle by 24.77 seconds, while fellow 13-year-old Tahnee Steele came away with gold medals in the 200m backstroke and 100m butterfly, as well as three bronze.

While the Gunnedah club’s older swimmers were showing the way, the juniors were displaying their own talents with many making their carnival debut. Those who took home medals include Jorja and Lukas Burden, Archer and Cooper Cameron, Campbell and Rafe Denovan, Lachlan Finnerty, Jock Knapman, Jimmy Loveridge, Matilda Ramien, Will and Zoe Riordan, Aiden Sills, Marsel Tikhonskiy and Madelyn Whitton. Reggie Stewart, Pippa Wark, Harrison Foran and Elsie, Audrey and Ivy Walshe all gained more valuable experience.

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