Swimmers Timothy Cookson and Jack Kelly.
Swimmers Timothy Cookson and Jack Kelly. Allan Reinikka ROK121218aswimmer

Rockhampton swimmers head to 'biggest meet of the year'

SWIMMING: Caribeae Swimming Club will be in the spotlight at the McDonald's Queensland Championships this weekend, as 27 of its members vie for personal best records and a spot at the nationals.

Twenty-one of those members will compete at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre from December 15-21 in the relays and six others will go into the individual medleys.

"We have teams nominated through to the 15-16 age group in relays and competing up to the 15-year-old age group in the individuals,” Caribeae head coach Jodi Shanks said.

"In our relays, our 9-10 year-old boys have a really strong team but any of the teams that go and compete from our club have a chance.

"Our 15-16 year-old boys in the relays also have a good chance.”

Unfortunately, one of the club's star swimmers Joe Milburn will be sitting out this year due to illness.

"For stand-outs, we're looking at Jack Kelly, who has been training really well and is looking at 13 events,” Shanks said.

"He is looking at being in the top 10 for most of those and hopefully breaking PBs and if he can go into each event with the goal to swim PBs, I think he will.

"Tim Cookson has three events and is on the verge of making national times and will hopefully get those while he's down there.

"Will Salmon is competing in the multi class and has a good chance of nationals as well.”

The state championships provides a platform for young swimmers, hoping to nab a spot at next year's nationals.

"If the kids do well at states, they will do well at nationals and if they medal, they have a good chance to be in the top eight at nationals,” Shanks said.

"There will be other local clubs heading down as well as clubs from throughout the region like from Gladstone and Biloela.

"We've got the most numbers in the relays this year than we've had for years, which is a great response to kids nominating for that.

"We'll also have two teams in each age group in relays as well.”

The relays will kick off on Saturday and the individual medleys will begin on Sunday, with races continue to Friday.

One of those hoping to score national times and come away with medals from his second state championship, is life-long member Kelly, 13.

"This is my second time at a long course championship,” he said.

"It's the biggest meet of the year, apart from nationals.

"I'll be competing in the 13-year-old boys for individual medleys and in the U16 club relays and U14 CQ relay.

"I've been training more than usual. The last 10 weeks I've been doing morning sessions as well.

"Tom Connelan (from Boondall's Nudgee College) will be hard to beat but if the boys can stick with him, we'll be looking good.”

Cookson, 15, will be returning to the competition for his third time in the butterfly and individual medley divisions.

"I'm hoping it will take me to nationals... my mindset is to try hard and make PBs and national times and try my hardest,” he said.

"I believe states is important because it gives younger swimmers the opportunity to see what it is like at a higher level and to experience it.

"Everyone down there will be hard competition. They're equally fast.

"It's a mental and physical sport and being with friends and just focusing on the race and just doing it helps take your mind off things.

"I've been a member of Caribeae for six or seven years and I just love how everyone treats each other. It's a good swimming club and like a family.”