Gunnedah swimmer Alexis Whitton has won a bronze medal at the NSW Senior State Age Championships in Sydney with Audrey Hannaford and Baxter Knapman also qualifying to compete.

The 12-year-old entered the 50m freestyle final as the third fastest qualifier, before lining up against the best of the best in NSW in her age group for the final on Monday night. She was quick off the blocks in a fast and exciting race that saw the finalists go head to head for a state title. With just milliseconds between them, Alexis touched the wall third in a blistering time of 28.19 – an improvement of 0.21 on her heat time and just off her personal best of 28 seconds flat which she nailed at school nationals in August.

The national and state medallist also made the final of the 200m Individual Medley where she dropped 3.28 seconds to finish ninth overall and is seeded fifth going into the 100m backstroke final after posting another personal best time in the heats. Alexis is in Sydney all week to compete in her first senior state event for 12 years and over swimmers. She qualified for 11 events – an achievement in itself – and has also raced the 100m breaststroke where she placed 20th and the 200m breaststroke where she finished 35th.

She is joined by talented clubmate Audrey Hannaford who also lined up for Gunnedah in the 50m freestyle and swam a cracking race in the 14 years girls. After months of hard training, she smashed her personal best time of 29.51 seconds to break the 28 second barrier with a time of 28.70. Audrey placed a credible 26th out of 82 swimmers in the freestyle event on Monday and raced the 100m backstroke yesterday where she finished just outside her personal best time. Her final event will be the 50m backstroke.

Senior squad member Baxter Knapman is also swimming at the state championships.

Baxter’s first event was the 100m backstroke where he nailed a personal best time of 1:13.78 in a tight field of competition. Baxter has also qualified for the 50m backstroke and 50m butterfly in the 13 year old boys age division.

Meanwhile, Audrey and Alexis were left starstruck after running into duel Olympic gold-medal swimmer and world champion Bronte Campbell in the stands at the aquatic centre this week. The girls spoke with the Olympic swimmer before she wished them luck during their week of racing.

Former Gunnedah swimmers Jacob and Tahlia Smith are also competing this week at the Queensland State Championships for St Peters Western in Brisbane. Jacob has qualified for nine individual races and has already posted six personal best times, while Tahlia is competing in six events with her best times so far in the 100m freestyle and 50m backstroke.

Alexis Whitton won bronze in the 12 years girls 50m freestyle final. and (inset) Audrey Hannaford, left, and Alexis rub shoulders with duel Olympic gold-medal winner and world champion swimmer, Bronte Campbell, while competing at the NSW Senior State Age Championships in Sydney this week.

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