Sports columnist Vince Habermann looks at how some of Fairymead Swimming Club's top swimmers are getting back into full training as COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Fairymead Swimming Club trio Toby Street and sisters Jaime and Taylor Krueger and former clubmate Connor Simms, who is on a Bond University Scholarship on the Gold Coast, were all in the fast lane to the nationals before COVID-19 rocked the world.
Now, as they get back into full training, Fairymead Swimming Club coach and Connor’s father Palm Simms can’t map out a clear program for them as no major championships for the 2020-21 season have yet been confirmed.
Paul, who has had three lots of surgery since dislocating his shoulder in October and has had some needed recovery time over the past three months, said Connor returned home during the Bond University shut-down and while here, he and Shalom College students Toby, Jaime and Taylor had maintained some fitness with gym sessions and a couple of ocean swims per week.
“I really wanted them to keep some sort of condition up instead of coming back with nothing so they did some weights and fitness and they took advantage of the biggest swimming pool we have got (the ocean) while still social distancing – it was also good for them to have some interaction with kids they would normally see eight or nine or 10 times a week,” Paul said.
“Since we started squad training two weeks ago, with only one person per lane allowed, it has been very difficult but we can open it up a bit more from this Monday with a lot more of the younger swimmers also returning – for many of them their last swim was 24th March and that seems like years ago.
“The problem for the top swimmers is that we don’t know when their first event will be – there are no nationals and no state short course championships – Swimming Australia have put it out there to gauge viability to conduct the Australian Shortcourse in November but that is an open category, so if they get the green light, they would be on Connor’s radar and Toby might be in the mix.
“Also, Jaime is still the current national butterfly age champion and (yesterday) a year ago, she finished eighth in the women’s open 200 butterfly final at the World championships trials at Chandler.
“Technically we don’t know if the Olympic Games have got the 100 per cent go-ahead for next year but Connor would be certainly targeting the Olympic trials again, and it’s probably good for him to have the extra 12 months; he has grown and filled out.”
Paul is hoping that Fairymead Swimming Club will be able to stage their signature 47th annual City of Charm Carnival in November and that the state championships will also go ahead in December.
“We would love to have City of Charm and with electronic timing and eight lanes, it could be one of the few carnivals to allow kids to qualify for the state titles,” he said.
“The state championships are another 23 weeks away and the way things are speeding up, unless Covid-19 spikes up again, it should open up to sporting events like this, but at the moment, we are just waiting to get the go-ahead for life as normal.”
With Jaime and Taylor in Years 11 and 9 respectively, Paul said they would continue to live and train in Bundaberg for at least a few more years but with Toby, who was a national 200m freestyle finalist in 2019, in Year 12, it will be decision-time for him at the end of this year.
“One of Toby’s goal was to swim fast and impress Bond University and get the same scholarship that Connor got, and he was ready to fire at the nationals but with COVID-19, unfortunately they have taken that scholarship away this year, although he could still get a High Performance Scholarship, and he would love to get there, but if not we are still working on Plan B or C,” he said.
“Toby has got a great work ethic and will do anything you ask him to do – he doesn’t wince at anything, and he has also started to develop and is taller than me now – if nothing else, COVID-19 has given his body a chance to grow and he has got a great future.”
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