GOLLY GOUGH: Former Coffs swimmer smashes Aussie record
A FORMER Coffs Harbour swimmer has burst into the world top ten after a blistering swim in Brisbane at the weekend.
In her first competitive swim since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, 21-year-old Maddy Gough smashed the previous Australian record in the 1500m by more than five seconds.
Setting a time of 15:38.01, Gough threw down the gauntlet to her fellow Olympic hopefuls and posted the eighth fastest time in the world during the Speedo Short Course Preparation Meet at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre.
Gough, who left Coffs Harbour when she was 16, said the time was somewhat unexpected given the disruption to the season caused by the pandemic, which at one stage had her confined to ocean swimming while pools were closed.
But she said the steady build up in training and a recent emphasis on distance and endurance had definitely helped.
"It is amazing and super exciting," she said. "I was really happy with the result and it is good to see all the hard work and training pay off."
While there are a number of regional meets on the cards, the Australian Dolphins swimming team member had her sights firmly on the Tokyo Olympics which have been rescheduled to begin next year.
"There are a few competitions coming up but the main goal would be to qualify for the Olympics next year, which would be amazing," Gough said.
Gough's achievement delighted her former coach and Coffs Coast Swim Squad principal Dean Laurence, who said it set a great example to the young swimmers in the region.
"It just made me feel really good, I just passed it around the pool and the older people here were very excited," he said.
"It is great for Coffs Harbour and it goes to show that just even if you grow up in a little town that has a big banana you can go and achieve great things."
"It doesn't mean you can't reach the top."
Laurence also credits Gough with helping to develop his own career as a trainer, after a phenomenal swim when she was 13 opened up doors for the both of them.
"It was her first Nationals event and she did a around a 20 second 800m personal best swim and came sixth," he said.
"I was ecstatic at how well she did."
That performance meant Gough and Laurence had the opportunity to train with the national Academy, enabling them both to learn from the very best swimming coaches in the country.
"I learnt a lot from them in seeing how they work and it was big inspiration for me coming from a small town like Coffs Harbour."