By Liam Emerton
Our Central Queensland swimmers got their season underway with the first Gladstone meet of the season.
The John Dahl Spring Sprint meet was hosted by the Gladstone South Swimming Club at the John Dahl swimming complex on Saturday.
With 260 swimmers flocking to the pool, it was one of the biggest recorded meets for the pool and for the club itself.
Local athletes from Rockhampton, Gladstone, Biloela, Yeppoon, Emerald, Emu Park, Moura and Boyne Tannum joined in the fantastic meet for some sublime competition.
For Gladstone South Swimming Club the day was also a personal boost, having seen the most competitors from their club at a meet for a long period of time.
For the Gladstone South Swimming Club president Ryan Chinner, it was a really great way to start off the swimming season.
“It was probably one of the biggest meets held in that pool in the last 20 years,” he said.
“Our groundsman, who lives there, has been there for 16 years and he said it was the most people he’s seen there in his time at the club.
“We had 260 swimmers coming from 12 different clubs and last year we only had 160 due to Covid and the year before we had about 213.
“So to go to 260 was a massive jump and it was a great day, perfect conditions and all the kids from all the clubs swam really well. It was fantastic.”
Chinner said that the massive turnout was a sign that kids are keen to get back into the pool after a disrupted season last year.
“I think that is an indication that swimming last year in our region continued, it was pretty restricted in how events were held because of Covid,” he said.
“We did have everyone swimming, but now that requirements for outdoor sports events have been eased has been the difference.
“People are now coming through the off-season and itching to get into the pool and the fact that kids could come with multiple family members made it more attractive for them all.
“Ours was one of the first of the season and we got a big rush because of all that.”
Despite holding their own and bringing together an outstanding day of racing, Chinner said Gladstone South couldn’t have done it without the support of sponsors and the Central Queensland Swimming Association.
“We as a club are still fairly young and obviously a number of us have been in the swimming community for many years,” he said.
“We’re still learning how things go and how to do things. I personally felt a lot more confident knowing that we had the likes of Susan Brown, the meet director.
“And we had a team of CQ officials there who have officiated across Queensland and I knew if anything went wrong those guys have probably seen everything that could possibly go wrong and fix it by themselves.
“By all accounts, the day went very smoothly and lots of people in the gates, lots of people swimming fast and lots of great prizes.
“We had a local coffee van and a Dippin’ Dots van come down and they both did very well out of it.”
The next events on the CQ Swimming calendar will be the Biolela Swim Club’s Biloela Open and the Queensland Open Water Championships in which a number of our local swimmers will be competing.