Six Alstonville swimmers are competing at nationals

Back row from left. Angus Smyth, Patrick Thompson, Hamish Walker. Front row Lachlan Walker, Madeline Ewing and Alastair Miller.
Back row from left. Angus Smyth, Patrick Thompson, Hamish Walker. Front row Lachlan Walker, Madeline Ewing and Alastair Miller.

SIX teenagers from the Alstonville Swimming Club will compete in the National Age Championships on the Gold Coast this week.

The team comprises Madeline Ewing, Alastair Miller, Hamish Walker, Lachlan Walker, Angus Smyth and Patrick Thompson.

Coach Graham Walker has been busy preparing the squad and believes they are capable of a strong showing.

"The kids have been training really hard over the last 6-12 months in preparation for this," Walker said.

"It's a tough qualifying standard and they've done well just to get to this point.

"We've got some kids in this group who will definitely make finals and some are a good chance of winning medals.

"Most of these guys are training up to eight times a week in the pool with a couple of gym sessions on top of that.

"The older ones have done well to keep training at that level while they're in Year 11 and 12 at high school.

"We're really proud of the guys, for a small town like Alstonville it's a pretty outstanding effort to have this many going."

Lachlan Walker has been a promising talent for many years and qualified to swim in the Olympic trials in 2020.

He also holds an impressive CV of times in his under-17 age division.

"Lachlan is ranked second in Australia in his 400m medley," Graham Walker said.

"He's third in the 200m medley and is top five in 200m butterfly, 200m backstroke and 1500m freestyle.

"He'll go to the Olympic trials at Adelaide in June where he'll swim in six events.

"Realistically, he won't make the Australian team this year but in three years time he'll be 20 and can start building towards that one and the one after that.

"It will be a huge step up for him, he'll get a bit of a taste for it and see what it's like racing against the big boys.

The Alstonville Swimming Club has about 90 members and have enjoyed the Ballina Shire Council upgrades to the pool which were completed in 2018.

Alstonville Aquatic centre managers Greg and Kelly Fettell have hosted high performance swim teams since the reopening, including Australian team members Bronte and Cate Campbell.

Former professional triathlete Clayton Fettell helps as an assistant coach.

"Greg and Kelly have been really supportive of the kids in allowing us the time to get them ready," Walker said.

"The new pool is fantastic and the Alstonville club numbers will hopefully keep building over the next few years.

"It is only closed for one month of the year and even then they can go to the Ballina pool, it gives them no excuse not to be in the water.

"We have the next crop of kids coming through and it helps push this group.

"It's a hard sport, to improve that extra five percent you need work hard.

"To get the extra one percent to reach the elite level from there is even harder."