Broken Hill swimmers impress with records, medals at SA Country Championships read full article at

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. 

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.”

Three teenaged boys with wet hair standing together in front of a pool where a swimming carnival is taking place.
Cohen Clavel (left) pictured with teammates Jack Millard and Oliver Walsh.(Supplied: Ben Clavel)

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.

A group of people of varied ages smiling and standing in a cluster wearing orange and blue shirts in front of a swimming pool.
Ben Clavel says there are many talented young swimmers in Broken Hill.(Supplied: Ben Clavel)

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.”

More success

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.

A teenaged boy wearing a purple and blue swim cap and goggles swimming in a pool lane.
Lukas Milne also performed well at the event, winning best overall male in his age group.(Supplied: Silver City Swim Club)

“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.

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