Big hopes for glory

Ryan Smith (front), Anthony Cronan, Krystle Clarke, Leah Neale, Sharnie Kunde and Hayden Rea are among the group of CYMS St Edmund’s swimmers competing at Australian championships.
Ryan Smith (front), Anthony Cronan, Krystle Clarke, Leah Neale, Sharnie Kunde and Hayden Rea are among the group of CYMS St Edmund’s swimmers competing at Australian championships. Sarah Harvey

WHEN Olympic swim trials are only held every four years, regional swimmers and their coaches know that something exceptional is needed to make Australia's world-class team.

However, dreams are often realised and expectations exceeded in such a competitive environment.

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With four of his elite swimmers lining up at next week's Olympic trials in Adelaide, CYMS St Edmund's head coach Peter Carswell is excited and cautious at the same time.

Leah Neale, Hayden Rea, Krystle Clarke and Sharnie Kunde have qualified for the March 15-22 championships which will determine Australia's swim team for this year's London Olympics.

After winning two gold and two silver medals representing Australia at last year's Commonwealth Youth Games, Neale is CY's leading hope.

The Newtown achiever will race in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle, as well as 50m and 100m backstroke.

"There has been a big improvement in the swimming standard in female swimming in Australia and Leah is still in the ball park," Carswell said.

"But at 16, she's probably in the grandstand watching at the moment. It will be a big achievement (for her to make the Olympic team).

"But you never know. Strange things happen at Olympic trials."

While QT-City of Ipswich junior sportstar of the year Neale is looking to build on her tremendous record, clubmates Rea, Clarke and Kunde are heading to Adelaide for valuable competition. After collecting two gold and two bronze medals in personal-best times at last year's state titles, Rea is lining up in the 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle.

"His times rank him very well at national age level," Carswell said. "But he's still down there at opens for experience. Being Olympic trials is a bonus for him."

Clarke is nominated in the 100m and 200m butterfly with Kunde's program featuring the 100m and 200m butterfly and 100m backstroke.

"Krystle has only been with me since December," Carswell said.

"She's come on really well so we're hoping for another couple of PBs.

It's her first open nationals so it will be a good experience for her. Sharnie is more butterfly but she swam a very good 100m backstroke a couple of weeks ago."

Neale, Rea, Clarke and Kunde have also qualified for the Australian age championships in Brisbane from April 9-14.

They'll be joined by CY's clubmates Laura Scolaro, Anthony Cronan and Ryan Smith at the Chandler carnival.

Carswell said all his swimmers were working hard, preparing for a mini taper for the open trials and full taper for next month's age championships.

"I'm pretty happy," Carswell said of his club's representation at the elite events.

"The men's times are a lot harder than women's times," he said.

"Girls mature much faster than men swimming wise."

Carswell said the recent hot and rainy weather hadn't hampered his swimmers much.

"We lost a couple of days in the storms but that's just the way it is in Queensland," the former Melbourne-based coach said.

"Probably the thing that knocks my guys around the most is trying to keep the work up with school work.

"Most of my guys are very academic as well. And I've got Sharnie and Krystle down at uni. They're trying to fit their studies in as well.

"Leah is year 12 and they've all got school commitments as well so we've got to taper them for that as well because it's important to do well at school.

Topics:  london olympics olympics swimming trials

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