Young team impresses at country swimming titles

HEAD coach Jayson Lamb is optimistic Warrnambool Swimming Club members are bound for more success after an impressive medal haul at the Victorian Country Championships in Shepparton on the weekend.

Medallists Lainey Miller, 15 (back left), Jamin Baulch, 17, Meg Flaherty, 16, Holly Windahl, 13, Caitlyn MacKay, 18 (front left), and Ashleigh Pettigrew, 24, underpinned a strong Warrnambool performance. 140818AS05 Picture: AARON SAWALL

Medallists Lainey Miller, 15 (back left), Jamin Baulch, 17, Meg Flaherty, 16, Holly Windahl, 13, Caitlyn MacKay, 18 (front left), and Ashleigh Pettigrew, 24, underpinned a strong Warrnambool performance. 140818AS05 Picture: AARON SAWALL

The club finished third in the overall teams points score as seven swimmers collected 17 medals and 27 carved big amounts off their personal best times.

Its finish matched last year’s effort when world- class competitor Isaac Jones, was racing for the club. But with Jones now at college in America, Lamb said the club’s younger swimmers stepped up.

“It was amazing,” he said. “I really wasn’t expecting it. There were kids taking 10 seconds off their PBs.

“I can’t remember a year when so many have made such big improvements. Usually you have one or two do well and take chunks off but as a group I can’t recall a weekend I’ve been to where they have taken so much time off.”

Caitlyn Mackay led the medal haul with gold in the 50m breaststroke, three silver and a bronze. She and Ashleigh Pettigrew, who won one silver and three bronze medals, were prolific in multi-class events.

Jack Paulka was the best performed male with a silver medal in the 100m butterfly and two bronze medals. Jamin Baulch claimed his first country shortcourse medals at his seventh championships with a silver in the 16-17-year-old 100m backstroke and bronze in the 100m butterfly.

Meg Flaherty, Lainey Miller and Holly Windahl also broke through for their first medals at the championships after years of persistence.

Meg claimed bronze in the 16-17-year-old 100m breaststroke at her sixth championships, Lainey was third in the 14-15-year-old 100m individual medley at her fifth titles and Holly picked up bronze in the 12-13-year-old 100m backstroke. 

Lamb predicted a bright future for a group of swimmers including Jason Pritchard, who slashed 11 seconds off his 200m freestyle PB, Rhys Kent, Mitch Gristede and Thomas Buckley, who all slashed chunks out of their PBs. 

“Just in the last couple of months they have really bonded as a group, really encouraging each other.”

Several of the club’s swimmers including Meg, Holly, Jamin, Lainey and Caitlyn will step up to state shortcourse titles in September.

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