Young swimmers from Broken Hill have broken several country South Australian swimming records this month, with some also qualifying for the national competition later this year.
- A 13-year-old boy from Broken Hill broke seven swimming records at the SA Country Championships
- Coaches say the swimming talent in the regional city is remarkable
- Three Broken Hill swimmers also qualified for the national championships in April
More than two dozen swimmers, across a range of age groups from two local swimming clubs, travelled to Mount Gambier last weekend to compete in the South Australian Country Championships.
The event was the first competition outside Broken Hill for several competitors, including 13-year-old Cohen Clavel of the Broken Hill Aquatic Stingrays.
Originally from Hay in regional New South Wales, the teenager said he took a while to get into swimming but has now fallen in love with the sport.
“There wasn’t really a swim club in Hay, the principal of my school was actually teaching us to swim [so] I wasn’t particularly good at it until I moved to Broken Hill [five years ago],” he said.
“It would have taken a couple of months.
“I was getting into it, then I hit puberty which helped a lot.”
One of his coaches, Jennine Speechley, said she was impressed with his development in such a short period of time as well as his drive to constantly improve.
“He focuses and he thinks about it … that’s rare in a swimmer, but he can still have fun,” Ms Speechley said.
Breaking records twice over
This ultimately paid off at the championship event, with Cohen coming first in several races and breaking seven South Australian country records in his age group.
He said he now had the record times for 50 and 100-metre freestyle, 50-metre backstroke, and the 50 and 100-metre butterfly.
He broke three of these records twice, initially in the preliminary finals before beating his own times again in the finals.
“I was really excited … I was just trying to get my times, just PBs [personal bests] and [my name] just kept coming up, I was getting it every time, so it was just a bonus,” Cohen said.
Cohen’s father, Ben Clavel, was one of the parents who travelled with him and his two brothers, who also swim, to Mount Gambier.
He said what really stood out for him was his son matching the ability of 18-year-olds who swam at a state and national level.
“He’s in company with some big names. To do that from a small country town in the middle of the desert … it’s pretty amazing we have the quality of swimmers that we do in Broken Hill,” he said.
“And it’s not just our club, there’s other clubs in Broken Hill who have amazing swimmers as well.”
The Silver City Swim Club’s head coach, Ricky Shore, who also was in Mount Gambier, agreed the town punched above its weight when it came to swimming talent.
He said his club ended up placing third overall in the event, based on the results of its 13 swimmers competing.
“It was a fantastic achievement, considering the top club, Barossa, had 58 swimmers and the next club, Onkaparinga, with 27 swimmers,” Mr Shore said.
“So basically, our swimmers doubled their points per swimmer with the result.”
According to Mr Shore, two swimmers, 12-year-old Scarlett Molloy and 16-year-old Lukas Milne (then 15), topped the competition in their respective age groups.
Scarlett and 13-year-old Sienna Bevan, along with Cohen, all qualified for the national championships, which will take place on the Gold Coast in April.