Four high school students have done their hometown proud, representing Tamworth at the 2023 Australian Age Championships on the Gold Coast in April.
The championships are the highest point of competition for age swimmers 13 to 17 years of age and for Bella, Alex, Chelsea and Tilani, it is the highlight of their junior swimming careers.
L-R: Bella, Alex, Chelsea and Tilani.
Although the girls didn’t place, they did have outstanding performances with 17-year-old Alex ending her final Age Championships competition with a swim in the 100m and 50m Breaststroke Finals and 13-year-old Chelsea made her Age Championships debut.
The students train at the pool and gym most days, admitting, the training and dedication is difficult to keep up with.
However, another difficulty they face, is the fact they are swimmers from regional Australia.
“We don’t have the same opportunities as those in places like Sydney who have bigger and more easily accessible facilities,” said Alex.
“Even compared to swimmers from Queensland, they have access to a pool all year round thanks to warmer weather.”
Public pools in Tamworth close for winter due to the lack of outdoor pool heating, leaving competitive athletes like Bella, Alex, Chelsea and Tilani without a dedicated training facility.
This lack of year-round dedicated training facilities is why the future Northern Inland Aquatic, Education and Health Centre of Excellence is so greatly needed.
In February, Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson announced a $15 million investment by the then NSW Liberal and Nationals Government into the world-class facility that will include a ten lane 51.5m pool and a learn to swim pool.
“There’s no doubt about it, Tamworth needs an indoor pool to service our athletes and the community, ensuring we have access to a public indoor swimming pool all year around,” Mr Anderson said.
“This facility will be home to the Olympic, Paralympic, and professional sporting stars of tomorrow, taking them from their very first swimming lesson, all the way to the gold-medal.”
The centre will also include administration and sports offices, medical consultation rooms, functional and rehabilitation gymnasium, a sport science lab, technologically advanced teaching spaces for university students, and lounge areas.
As for Bella, Chelsea and Tilani, they now have their eyes on the 2024 Age Championships, while Alex is taking a step back from swimming to complete her HSC and plan for university.