A TRIO of local teenagers have qualified for the Australian National Open Water Championships.
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When the championships are held in January, it will mark the first time age group swimmers training in the Coffs Coast region will compete at the national level in the 5km Open Water event.
Swimmers Mitchell Hickey and Isaiha Phillips, both aged 16, and 14 year-old Sylas Phillips all competed at the International Regatta Centre in Penrith on the weekend and swam well inside the qualifying time.
All three took a little over an hour to complete the five kilometre swim, a remarkable achievement considering they were unable to train in any pool between March and June due to COVID restrictions.
Their coach Sarah-Jane Weir said going from no training to just swimming in the 20 metre pool at the Harbour Swim School on Marcia Street and then to qualify for nationals is a remarkable effort.
“It is a really big jump for the boys,” she said.
“They’re not used to swimming in the open water and for one of them (Mitchell), it was his first try at five kilometres.”
It’s a great reward for the eight pool sessions a week they each complete as well as the additional training in the gym and competing in surf lifesaving.
Weir said qualifying to go back to Penrith for nationals is a great reward for the hard work.
“The three of them have been swimming for a while now and been trying to qualify for a few years for nationals.”
By Brad GREENSHIELDS