Home Australia A young swim team training in a muddy river wins respect and hearts at the state championships

A young swim team training in a muddy river wins respect and hearts at the state championships

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Several children swim in a brown river

When the Weilmoringle public school swimming team trains, they have to travel more than 200 kilometers to the nearest swimming pool.

So it is much easier to use the Culgoa River that runs through the town.

“Mud, sticks and everything,” is how student Kaydence Samuels describes it.

Weilmoringle is a remote community of 72 people about 130 kilometers northeast of Bourke, in north-west New South Wales.

The muddy Culgoa River that runs through Weilmoringle is the team’s training centre.(Supplied: Weilmoringle Public School.)

The primary school, one of the two most important buildings in the city, has five students: four of them are on the swim team (the fifth is still learning to swim).

Despite the distance of a swimming pool, the four qualified for the state public school swimming championships in Sydney on Thursday and Friday.

The quad team of Kaydence, D’Mitri Samuels, Tyne Brown and Jamarh Hart traveled 650 kilometers to reach the Sydney Olympic Aquatic Center for their relay race, first taking a bus to Dubbo and then a flight to the big smoke.

A group of four elementary school-aged children smile by a pool.

Weilmoringle Primary School Relay Team (left to right) Jamarh Hart, Kaydence Samuels, D’Mitry Samuels and Ryne Brown.(ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Principal Robyn Watson says swimming at a large venue is a great opportunity for her students and families, many of whom also travel to Sydney.

“It’s a very exciting event for the students and the whole community here,” Mrs Watson said.

But just a week after the event, a cruel twist threatened to keep the team above water.

Fighting against the current

There is no formal swimming routine in the river, but its natural challenges give the team something to work with, Watson says.

“They swim against the current, which gives them strength,” Watson said.

Sometimes the river is not flowing and they head to a water hole to swim on the weekend.

“We’ve got 35 waterholes between here and Bourke, so they head to one of the big waterholes and have a go,” Ms Watson said.

The team would have liked to do some last-minute extra sessions at the nearest pool in Brewarrina, but it is only open between October and the end of March.

A late injury threatens

Just a week after the swim meet, Ryne fell off her bike and broke her wrist.

Watson says there were tears in the community. He called the headteacher of the school in Tamworth to give him the devastating news.

They stuck to the plan for the whole team to travel to Sydney and see the swimming center while flights were booked.

A boy with a pink swimming cap dives into the water of an Olympic pool

Jamarh jumps towards the anchor leg. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

As luck would have it, the Public School Swimming Association was able to recruit a substitute from another school in the region to fill the fourth swimmer position.

Thanks to the late substitution, the Weilmoringle team is able to compete in the small schools relay.

“From such disappointment, it has become a win-win situation,” Watson said.

A young woman breathes while swimming freestyle in an Olympic pool.

Kaydence swims the first leg of the 4x50m mixed relay. (ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

Support that could be heard underwater

More than 20 people from Weilmoringle traveled to support the relay team, a participation of close to a third of the community’s population.

There are 1,500 students competing, but the shouts of “let’s go, Weil!” filled the aquatic center for his race on Friday.

A group of adults applaud from the top of the stadium at a swimming center.

‘Wow nice!’ It plays in the stands as fans make sure the swimmers hear them throughout the race.(ABC Radio Sydney: Oscar Wills)

After the race, Kaydence says she could hear the crowd cheering them on.

“A lot of voices in the water. I heard them too,” Kaydence said.

They finished in a respectable sixth place.

Three children in swimsuits wave to the crowd over a pool.

The swimmers appreciate the public’s support.(ABC Radio Sydney: Declan Bowring)

When asked if she was proud of her effort, Mrs Watson couldn’t have been more elated.

“Am I proud of their effort? I’m beside myself!” said Mrs. Watson.

“I can barely speak with the emotion of shouting ‘Go Weil!’

“It’s been so wonderful.”

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