FIVE Warrnambool swimmers are celebrating after securing medals at the Victorian all-junior championships in Melbourne.
Sister act Grace McNaught and Abigail McNaught along with teammates Eli Kerr, Chloe Adams and Jade King graced the podium.
A further five competitors - Jude de Silva-Smith, Georgia Turner, Kai Moloney, Oscar Cooke and Gemma Bond - made finals at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre meet at the weekend.
Warrnambool Swimming Club junior coach Peter Finnigan said the club, which sent 34 athletes to the competition, was rapt with their efforts, particularly after two COVID-19 interrupted seasons where the pool was often off limits.
"They swam exceptionally well and it was a great experience," he said.
"It was the first time many of our young swimmers have swam in Melbourne in the big arena and to handle it very well, I was very impressed.
"Almost every swimmer did a PB (personal best) which was a great achievement, especially for the younger guys."
The McNaught siblings both secured gold medals.
Grace won the eight and under backstroke and also collected a silver medal in the eight and under breaststroke.
Older sister Abigail won gold in the 11 and under butterfly.
"Abby worked through her technique over the weekend and she got the reward on Sunday," Finnigan said.
"She achieved the podium finish through her determination to improve.
"Abby has a very bright future in swimming and little Gracey, she's a ripper.
"Grace is starting to reap rewards after great training over summer."
Kerr, 11, finished with four medals - three gold and one silver - in the 16 and under multi-class category.
He won his butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle finals and finished runner-up in backstroke, highlighting his commitment to improve.
"Eli excelled and was swimming above his age group," Finnigan said.
Adams collected silver in the 13-year-old backstroke and King claimed silver in the 14-year-old backstroke.
Finnigan said the long-course results would give swimmers confidence ahead of the short-course season which will test different aspects of their techniques.
"It was a fantastic effort on the weekend and to finish the year off on a high note leads into a platform going into short-course which starts in May," he said.
"These guys haven't done much swimming for 18 months (because of the pandemic and pool closures) so I think they have excelled.
"The chance to actually start competing the last three months has shown their hard training and resilience has built up over the COVID-19 period.
"They've come out and are getting great reward. It's an amazing group of kids and a good reward for the club at junior level."
Warrnambool Swimming Club, which used the ocean to train throughout the pandemic, has navigated a busy schedule over the past few months with state open and stage age titles in Melbourne and country championships in Mildura giving its competitors competitions to aim for.
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