Up with the best
THREE Mid North Coast swimmers have reached the pinnacle of school swimming with their selection in the NSW team to compete at the Pacific Schools Games in Melbourne from November 26 to December 4.
Geoffrey Eastwood (Bellingen High), Richie Goddard (Dorrigo High) and Djaren Smith (St Patricks Macksville) gained selection after successfully competing at the All Schools Swimming Championships.
These championships, held at the Sydney Aquatic Centre earlier this month, doubled as selection trials for the Pacific Games.
The Pacific School Games are held every four to five years and involve more than 3000 students from across Australia and 35 Pacific region nations competing in swimming, diving, track and field, and basketball.
They originated as a forerunner to the Commonwealth Games in 1982 and are one of the largest student games in the world.
Geoffrey is something of a veteran having previously competed at the Pacific Schools Games in 2000.
After injury in late 2004 Geoffrey, with the help of his mother Leigh and Sawtell Swimming Club coach Tim Raven, trained himself back into form with a lot o hard work and was just about in top gear at All Schools.
He won two silver and two bronze medals and will swim in the 50m and 100m freestyle events at Melbourne.
Djaren continued to produce the sensational form that saw him break five records at the recent PSSA State Championships.
To ensure a level playing field, the top 12 and 13 year olds from PSSA swam off against the top secondary school 12 and 13 year olds.
In so doing, Djaren won gold in the 13 years 50m backstroke and silver in the 100m backstroke and will swim in these events at Melbourne.
Richie competed in the 15 Years and Under Multi-disability events at All Schools and continued to show the excellent form from Combined High Schools that saw him break five NSW and one Australian record.
His second placing in the backstroke and third in the butterfly were sufficient to gain selection for these events at the Pacific Schools Games.
Local Tyalla Primary student, Josh Chapman was also selected for Pacific Schools after producing some excellent swims at the PSSA State Championships.
He will compete in the 10/11 Years Boys Multi-disability 50m backstroke and breaststroke in Melbourne.
Geoffrey, Djaren and Richie have a lot of hard work ahead of them, but their achievement of selection for the Pacific School Games makes training that little bit easier.
In the interim, Djaren will compete at the Indigenous Games in July and Richie lines up in the State Special Olympics in June.
Since most pools have now closed for the season, the boys are most appreciative of the training and coaching afforded them at the heated Sawtell swimming pool by Tim Raven and Leigh Eastwood.