CHAMPIONS: Jack Kelly, Jacob Spark and Joe Milburn all received medals at the Queensland School Championships.
CHAMPIONS: Jack Kelly, Jacob Spark and Joe Milburn all received medals at the Queensland School Championships. Steph Allen

Caribeae swimmers score big at Qld School Championships

SWIMMING: LESS than two weeks ago, a line-up of talented Rockhampton swimmers were standing on the swimming blocks at Brisbane Aquatic Centre, bracing to slice through the water.

Joe Milburn, Jacob Spark and Jack Kelly were three of the nine Caribeae Swimming Club competitors that made the way down to the Queensland School Championships to go up against throngs of other passionate school-aged athletes.

The Championships were designed as a way to qualify talented young swimmers from across the state for the School Nationals in Hobart at the end of July.

"I went there for three events: my 100m butterfly, my 50m butterfly and my 50m freestyle and I did pretty well all round,” Spark, 17, said.

"I didn't do any PBs this time but I got a bronze in the 50m free, silver in the 50m fly and silver in the 100m fly.

"My 50m fly this time wasn't that good. I was close to my PB but I could've done a bit better with my finishes. I breathed in the last five metres and that put me back and the other guy touched before me.”

However, Spark redeemed himself with two great performances in his other events and even managed to place fourth in his 50m fly.

"Now I've been accepted in the Queensland team for all three and then three relay teams: the medley relay, the all-age relay and the freestyle relay,” he said.

"Coming back from the Commonwealth Games trials for the 50m fly, I probably went into the 50m butterfly at States pretty confident.

"That's maybe why I didn't do as well as I should've. But this time, I know I've just got to put my head down, go for the wall, no thinking about it and give it everything I've got.

"Then hopefully I can come away with a gold.”

CHAMPIONS: Jack Kelly, Jacob Spark and Joe Milburn all received medals at the Queensland School Championships.
CHAMPIONS: Jack Kelly, Jacob Spark and Joe Milburn all received medals at the Queensland School Championships. Steph Allen

At the Commonwealth trials, Spark proved his remarkable skill, placing 32nd overall in his event and third in his age group.

"That really boosted my confidence up again,” he said.

"That was a really good experience.”

Kelly, 13, was also a stand-out, placing in the top 10 for all but one event and scoring a silver in the 200m fly.

"It was a tough race but I came out hard which is hard to do,” he said.

"I went out and did a PB and I was really happy. It was a one second PB, which doesn't sound like much but every second counts.

"I trained around four times a week and do two gym sessions. There's no secrets or rips. It's just working hard and making sure you get to training because: no pain, no gain.”

Kelly will be utilising his working ethic and training for his next big state meet: the Queensland Short Course Championships in August.

Milburn, 16, took home a fistful of medals from the Championships: a gold in the 100m fly and the 200m individual medley, a silver in the 200m backstroke and a bronze in the 50m fly and the 200m fly.

Having also competed in the Pacific School Games last year, Milburn is no stranger to intense competition in the pool.

"I've pretty much been swimming for as long as I can remember, since I was a baby,” Milburn said.

"I am very competitive and I like that side of things.

"I'm definitely very competitive with my brother [Koda Milburn]. He thinks he can do anything I can and that's why he's so good at swimming.

"I feel like relays are probably on the fun side of things whereas individual events are a bit more serious and competitive.”

The boys' head coach, Jodie Shanks, couldn't be prouder of her team of Caribeae swimmers.

"They boys have swum really well and they got some good success from hard work,” she said.

"Joey is really focused on where he wants to go. Jack has worked really hard and come a long way in a short time and it continuing to improve with his hard work. Jake has a natural ability and with a little bit of work we do, he just swims well.

"Three of our boys [Jacob, Joe and Will Salmon] got invitations to the Queensland Team which includes schools from all over Australia.”